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Soybean harvest picks up after slow start

The Upper Midwest soybean harvest is surging into high gear. "Right here in my area, it will really get going this week," says Anthony Bly, Sioux Falls-based soils field specialist with South Dakota State University Extension. "I know other areas...

The Upper Midwest soybean harvest is surging into high gear.

"Right here in my area, it will really get going this week," says Anthony Bly, Sioux Falls-based soils field specialist with South Dakota State University Extension. "I know other areas where it's already going strong."

The region's soybean harvest usually begins in earnest in late September or early October. It started a little later than usual this fall because of the wet spring that delayed planting and pushed back the crop's normal maturation. Widespread frost in the middle of September, however, hurt many soybean fields and caused them to be ready for harvest a bit sooner than they would have been otherwise.

The National Agricultural Statistics Service, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, released harvest numbers on Oct. 6, reflecting progress on Oct. 5.

In South Dakota, 25 percent of soybeans were harvested on Oct. 5, up from 7 percent a week earlier but down from the five-year average of 45 percent.

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Minnesota farmers harvested 23 percent of their soybeans by Oct. 5, up from 10 percent a week earlier but down from the five-year average of 48 percent.

In North Dakota, 31 percent of soybeans were harvested, up from 9 percent a week earlier but down from the five-year average of 45 percent.

Soybean yields across the region vary widely, Bly and others say.

"You've got some really excellent yields. And there are some that aren't good," he says.

Soybeans, along with wheat and corn, are the Upper Midwest's three major crops.

Most area farmers have finished harvesting their wheat. But North Dakota, Montana and northwest Minnesota have wet pockets where some wheat remains to be combined. Farmers and others say the remaining wheat won't be finished for several weeks.

Small amounts of corn were harvested by Oct. 5 in North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana. The general corn harvest, however, isn't expected to begin for several weeks.

Look for an expanded article on the Upper Midwest harvest in the Oct. 13 print issue of Agweek.

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