combining soybeans in Iowa

Iowa soybean farmers had more than half of their soybean acres harvested as of Oct. 10. (Photo: Joclyn Bushman/Iowa Soybean Association)

USDA projects soybean bin-buster

October 14, 2021 | Bethany Baratta

The USDA expects a 611-million-bushel soybean crop in Iowa — a record for soybean production.

In its World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report, Iowa soybean production is forecast at 61 bushels/acre, up 2 bushels/acre from the Sept. 1 forecast and 7 bushels/acre from 2020.

USDA expects 10 million acres of soybeans to be harvested in Iowa this year.

More than half (56%) of Iowa’s soybean crop had been harvested as of Oct. 10, the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) said in its crop progress report earlier this week. Harvest progress is 9 days ahead of the five-year average. Soybean condition was rated 63% good to excellent in the report.

Various Iowa soybean farmers are reporting larger-than-expected crops.

“We’ve gotten a few lucky late-season rains that made a big difference,” said ISA Director of Market Development Grant Kimberley, who farms near Maxwell.

He says improved genetics and better management have also attributed to increasing soybean yields.

“Ultimately, though, we’ve gotten lucky this past year to get a few just-in-time rains in August,” he said.

Here’s what ISA farmer members across the state are saying about their crops:

Matt Brummett, Neola: We had a great run of early-season beans. The plants fed nicely, threshed well and had nice yields. Yields are good enough that we set a few field records. The high flat beans have been a little better than those on the bottoms this year. The late-season beans have been a different story. We had a good day of soybean harvest on Oct. 12, and then received three-quarters of an inch of rain. We are optimistic that we can finish bean harvest soon.

Curt Sindergard, Rolfe: We finished soybean harvest about a week ago and will finish corn soon. The yields we are seeing are definitely better than I had anticipated with the extremely dry conditions we experienced. Beans averaged 65 bushels/acre and corn should average around 220 bushels/ acre dry. We consider ourselves fortunate.

Ethan Lambert, Dows: Up in north-central Iowa, yields have varied quite a bit. Our conventional soybeans were consistently in the 50 bushels per acre range. Our no-till soybeans (planted into ryegrass) were pretty poor, unfortunately. They got hit with frost in early June, and that hurt yields much more than we expected. Early maturity soybeans were really dry in our area and some growers took out corn first. The recent rain helped put some moisture back in the beans, and quite a few switched back to finishing up soybeans last week before it rained Oct. 11. Corn on corn ground has been around 150 bushels/acre. Nothing great, but better than expected given our lack of rainfall and warm temps throughout the growing season. Our corn/soybean rotation fields have been in the 200 bushels/acre area. Pretty impressed with those yields. In my opinion, the late August rains helped test weights on corn a lot more than folks are talking about. 

We finished the harvest early this week and have been busy moving cows on bean stubble and corn stalks. Also spent the last couple of days baling corn stalks before the rain moves in. 

In the Wright County area, most beans have been harvested, and most growers have made significant progress on harvesting corn with the nice weather. 

Jerome Burken, Clinton: Just got done with wet corn, and yield was 200+ bushels per acre. Very good. Got started with beans, and the yield was about 65 bushels/acre. Overall, crops are looking good.

Kris Langgaard, Guthrie Center: Soybeans are probably 75% harvested. Bean harvest has been slow going with green stems, high humidity, and good yields!  Doing 65-70 bushels/acre on fields that typically average 48-50 bushels/acre. The yields really help with morale.

Marc Schneider, De Witt: Soybean harvest started and ended earlier than I can remember this year. We finished on Sept. 29, and the overall farm yield was roughly 74 bushels/acre (one of our best years).  It ranged from a low of 59 to a high of over 80 per field.  The only downside was how dry the beans were, as moisture rarely got above 11 and often was only 9%. The rye we planted as a cover crop is now emerged and looking good so far. I’m glad we finished with our beans before all this rain here in early Oct.

Rick Juchems, Plainfield: Some farmers in the area are done harvesting beans, but I’m a bit behind as I had to replant half my bean acres because of the May frost. A wind storm on Sept. 7 flattened all our corn, making corn harvest slow. We’ve been switching back and forth harvesting corn and soybeans due to rain and crop readiness. The oats that were aerial seeded Sept. 1 are almost as tall as the beans now. The tailings spreader will definitely be green when I do get back to beans. It’s been a beautiful fall for growing cover crops.