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Column: Crop Watch - Huge harvest week for soybeans with favorable results

NAPERVILLE, Ill. (Reuters) - Five of the eight U.S. Crop Watch soybean fields were harvested between Tuesday and Wednesday, and the final yield score was better than predicted in four of those cases – the fifth field already had the maximum expectation.

Soybeans sit in a truck as they are loaded at the Ruff Brothers Grain elevator in Leonore, Illinois, U.S., July 6, 2018. REUTERS/Daniel Acker

That contrasts with the earlier three bean fields in Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska, where final yields fell short of the prediction. Three of the eight corn fields have been harvested, though none in the latest week, and the remaining five should be completed within the next two weeks.

Growers generally reported rapid harvest progress for soybeans last week, more than in prior weeks. Most of the soybean fields in the Crop Watch areas have been completed, though a decent amount of corn remains.

The growers have been rating yield potential each week on a scale from 1 to 5. Scores of 1 or 5 represent yields close to or exceeding 15% below or above average, while 2 and 4 are assigned to yields around 5% to 10% from the recent field average.

The unweighted, eight-field final average soybean yield came in at 3.66, up from 3.16 a week earlier on better-than-expected results in North Dakota, Ohio, Kansas and Indiana. Illinois yield was adjusted to 3 from 2.75 based on final weigh-ins, though the producer had hoped for 4.5 just prior to harvest.

The average corn score rose to 3.56 from 3.5 a week earlier on bumps to Ohio and Nebraska, fields which have yet to be harvested.


The Indiana soybeans were completed on Tuesday with a final score of 4.25, better than the expected 3.25. The crop was sown May 26 over the original April 6 planted beans after the field was heavily damaged by frost, and late-planted beans usually have a lower yield ceiling.

The producer believes there were more viable soybean plants from the first planting attempt than he thought, and that added to the bigger yield. The Indiana soybeans scored a 3.25 last year and a 5 in 2018, and the 2020 corn field finished at 5.

The Ohio soybeans had the most surprising result versus expectations, coming in at 5 instead of 3.75. Rains were disappointing the entire season, and the grower had been seeing signs of deterioration as things progressed. But he attributes the success of the field to his input approach, applying fungicide and all the treatments he would normally use, despite the drought-like conditions and low-price environment.

The Ohio soybeans also notched a 5 last year and they ended at 4.5 in 2018. The producer increased corn expectations to 4 from 3.75. The Ohio corn recorded a 5 in the prior two years.

Yield for the Kansas soybeans ended at 4, above the 3.5 that was expected. This field was in the top 25% of the producer’s total soybean harvest, which was slightly better than average. He cites abundant early-season moisture and the lack of extreme heat and wind later in the summer as the saving grace for the field amid a long stretch of relatively dry weather.

Last year’s soy field in Kansas scored a 3.5, and two years ago it yielded 2.5. The 2020 corn field also ended at a 4.

The Minnesota soybeans matched the producer’s prediction for a 5, though he believes a couple of bushels may have been left on the table due to the rapid drydown and loss of moisture just prior to harvest. This year’s overall bean harvest for him is the second-best ever, after 2016.

Last year’s Crop Watch soybeans in Minnesota scored a 3.25, and the field reached a 3 in 2018.

The North Dakota soybeans were the final field completed on Wednesday, scoring 2.75 instead of the expected 2. The grower believes the field got somewhat more rainfall than his surrounding fields, and like the Ohio producer, he did not cut corners on inputs despite the rough season. The barley-soybean rotation was also favorable. However, this field was his best bean field versus expectations.

Soybeans in North Dakota scored a 1 last year and a 4 in 2018. This year’s field was harvested much earlier than those two.

Crop Watch 2020 follows one corn and one soybean field in eight U.S. Corn Belt states, and weekly updates will continue through harvest. Photos of the 16 Crop Watch fields can be tracked on Twitter using the hashtag #CropWatch20.

The following are the states and counties of the Crop Watch corn and soybean fields: Griggs, North Dakota; Freeborn, Minnesota; Burt, Nebraska; Rice, Kansas; Cedar, Iowa; Crawford, Illinois; Boone, Indiana; Fairfield, Ohio.

The opinions expressed here are those of the author, a market analyst for Reuters.

Editing by Matthew Lewis