With grain glut, some farmers choose to delay harvest



November 14, 2014 - 12:00 AM

Gary Parker has farmed all of his life, and the resiliency of soybeans never ceases to amaze him.
This year is no different.
“Most (farmers) have been surprised that soybeans have done as well as they have,” said Parker, 76. “The dry weather”— which came when many beans planted early were blooming — “had an effect, but the later ones, even those planted after wheat, did well.”
Normally, soybeans planted early in the season have the best yields, with those put in a little later lagging a behind. Beans planted as a second crop after wheat often are done so almost as an afterthought, and not expected to yield more than a few bushels per acre.
Roles were reversed this year.
Later-planted beans in many cases resulted in harvests of 30 to 40 bushels an acre, while after-wheat beans did about as well.
Those planted early in the season? Some faltered, but with rainfall in the area being spotty, even when dry weather hit, some of those also had yields pushing into the 30-bushel range.
At mid-week, area elevators were paying between $9.50 and $10 a bushel, more than Parker expected with an overall harvest that he characterized as reasonably good.
“Beans were at $12 before harvest and they’re still over $10 some places,” Parker said. He had anticipated prices to drop into the $7 to $8 range.
Prices have been buoyed by two factors, high demand and difficulty in moving beans to market.
The Archer Daniels Midland plant near Nevada, Mo., has unfilled orders for soybean meal for the livestock industry, created by lack of transport to get them to the plant, Parker said.
Soybeans also are made into biodiesel fuel at the plant.
Transfer by rail has been stifled by demands to carry coal. A hopper car can carry many times that of a highway transport.
A case in point of transport concerns is found at Piqua Co-op.
Ken Smail, its manager, said the elevator was accepting locally harvested beans on a day-to-day basis, with how much could be moved out determining how many bushels of storage the elevator had on a given day. The problem is an extension of the area corn harvest, when elevators also often were overwhelmed by incoming grain.
“If you don’t have (on-farm) storage, you just have to keep soybeans in a truck or leave them in the field until there’s a place to take them,” Parker said.
Several farmers said they were biding their time, leaving beans uncut until storage opened up.
Dave Bedenbender, who farms in the northern tier of Allen County, said his beans all were in the bin, but he knew farmers who had idled combines to wait for storage to become available.
“And some of them still are too green to cut,” he said.
Derek Hanson, Elsmore, farms Parker’s land a few miles south of LaHarpe. He has hauled beans to the Port of Catoosa, at Tulsa, where prices are higher than local elevators, but also entails cost of transporting the grain 120 miles.
Even with the problems that have developed with the harvest, Parker said most farmers are pleased. Not only are soybeans doing better than expected after the siege of mid-summer dry weather, most farmers also had good to excellent wheat and corn crops.
“That is especially true with after-wheat beans,” said Parker, whose experience of having been a member of the Kansas Soybean Commission and United Soybeans Board together for nearly 20 years shows through anytime soybeans enter the conversation. “I think most people are seeing more profit than ever before in double-cropping wheat and soybeans.”
That, he added, is a refreshing change from the past several years, during which “we haven’t had good soybean yields.”
“I’m always amazed at how well soybeans can do,” even when coping with adverse weather conditions, Parker said. “They really are a miracle crop.”

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