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Richard Schnepf of Granville, Iowa, checks on soybeans and hand picks some waterhemp weeds along the edge of a soybean field on Sept. 7. He was harvesting the field on Sept. 14, about 10 days ahead of normal. Photo taken Sept. 7, 2018, near Granville, Iowa. (Mikkel Pates/Agweek)

NW Iowa harvest starts on 70 bushel beans

GRANVILLE, Iowa — Richard Schnepf started harvesting soybeans on Sept. 15, despite the aftereffects of big rains in early September. He thinks that's a good 10 days ahead of time.

Schnepf farms about 500 acres, raising corn and soybeans and feeding hogs, and is involved in other ag-related businesses. A week before harvest, Schnepf was pulling a few waterhemp weeds along the field edges, checking for lodging after rains in early September.

This particular bean field had previously been nine years in continuous corn. This year, It was planted to dicamba-resistant soybeans but not sprayed with dicamba.

"We had good control with our normal herbicide program," Schnepf explained. "There's a little more (weed) pressure on your end-rows, your fence line."

Richard Schnepf of Granville, Iowa, raised dicamba-tolerant soybeans in 2018 but did not spray with dicamba.He planted the dicamba beans for new yield traits and as a defensive move in case of drift.

"That's what my ag suppliers were kind of promoting," Schnepf explained.

Schnepf didn't have exact figures but thought his rainfall totals were 150 to 200 percent of normal this year. He had some hail in early September, which is quite late. Rainfall totals were highly variable, with his farm getting 3.5 inches while others within 20 miles were getting 2- to 7-inch rains.

Bean yields are showing some promise, perhaps in the neighborhood of 70-bushels per acre or more. Despite the rains, Schnepf thought that most farmers will be able to get into the well-tiled soils in the area.

Usually, Schnepf plants corn-on-corn, but when it was decision time for the 2018 crop, soybean prices were "pretty decent," so he'd planted more of them in 2018 than the year before.

"I forward-contracted over half of them, a little heavier on beans this year," he said, of his marketing strategy. He has enough capacity to bin the rest and "wait and see what happens this winter" for prices and whether the effects of tariffs and trade wars subside.

Some livestock farmers in his area had been cutting corn for silage. They figure the yield on the corn in the silage at an equivalency to 220 to 230 bushels per acre yield, some to 250 bushels.

"It's been a good crop again, for corn," he says, of his area.

Despite poor crop prices, Schnepf said one indicator of the economic mood in his area was that one 120-acre piece of land, six miles east of him, sold for $14,300 an acre in an auction in early September, with two competitive neighbors.

"It was over in 15 minutes," Schnepf said. "I thought $12,000 (per acre) would stop it, and it still went above that."