When Manitoba’s soybean harvest is all safely in the bin the average yield is expected to be above the 10-year average and will probably set a record.
“Overall, fields have been pretty good this year provincially,” Dennis Lange, Manitoba Agriculture’s pulse specialist, said Oct. 13 in an interview. “We are probably looking maybe at 40 to 42 bushels an acre for a provincial average. That’s just an estimate, we don’t have final numbers yet.”
Lange’s estimate assumes the remaining 25 to 30 per cent of soybeans still in the fields as of last week are successfully harvested.
Manitoba’s record provincial average soybean yield of 38.5 bushels an acre, based on crop insurance data, was set in 2013. Last year’s average was close at 38.3.
The 10- and five-year averages are 33 and 35 bushels an acre, respectively.
Dale Alderson, of Intel Seeds at Oakville, predicts a provincial average soybean yield of 40 to 45 bushels an acre.
“Soybean yields were tremendous where there wasn’t a lot of standing water,” he said.
Based on weigh-wagon tests, Alderson said he saw yields of the same variety vary from 62 bushels an acre to 37, depending on moisture conditions. The lower yield was in excessively wet fields.
Soybeans, famous for how they tolerate wet conditions, can only take so much, Lange said.
“There will be yields of 10 to 15 bushels an acre,” he said. “By the same token I have also heard of yields of 45 to 55 bushels an acre this year too. I’ve heard of yields higher than that, but that was from (combine) yield monitors and I take them with a grain of salt.
“You hear about the really good numbers, but not so much about the poor ones.”
Soybeans generally did so well in Manitoba Lange said two million acres of the crop in 2017 wouldn’t be a surprise. That would be a 25 per cent jump from the record 1.6 million acres of soybeans seeded this spring, including 78,000 acres of pedigreed soybeans.
For a number of years soybeans have been Manitoba’s third-largest-acreage crop, behind canola and red spring wheat respectively.
“Interest in soybean seed is up this fall,” Alderson said. “That generally follows a good experience.”
More farmers are booking soybean seed earlier too, he said, probably to ensure they get the variety they want.
“The one caution I have with producers growing more acres of soybeans, or any crop, is that we haven’t had (an early-fall) frost in five or six years,” Lange said. “Keep those kinds of things in mind when expanding acres… and putting all your eggs in one basket as they say.”
As of Oct. 13, an estimated 70 to 75 per cent of Manitoba’s soybean crop had been harvested.
“In the south we are maybe a little higher, but you can still drive around and find soybeans that haven’t been harvested yet for one reason or another,” Lange said. “It might have been too wet to get in, or it was a little longer-season variety that wasn’t ready during the last time guys were threshing.
“There are soybeans out west that haven’t been harvested yet. There was a lot of rain out west last week. Some areas had over 100 mm.”
Ripe standing soybeans can tolerate wet fall weather, although some are subject to shattering after going through several wet-dry cycles, Lange said. However, that’s less of a risk during cooler weather, he added.
With good yields and soybean prices of $11 or more a bushel there is good reason for farmers to try and get the rest of the soybean crop off this fall, Lange said.
“Some growers have had some real challenges this year (harvesting) just because how wet it has been,” he said. “A number of growers has purchased track and rear-wheel assists for their combines.”
Most American buyers want soybeans under 13 per cent moisture. Soybeans with higher moisture content will have to be aerated or dried if levels warrant.
“Drying becomes another issue,” Lange said. “You can’t dry soybeans at high temperatures. One hundred to 110 F is the maximum. You can’t put a lot of heat to them otherwise you will split them and the quality goes down.”