Soybean Yields Continue To Disappoint

U.S. farmers focused on harvesting ripe soybeans this week, but yields remain below average in most parts of the Midwest, crop specialists told Reuters News Service.

In Iowa, expected to follow No. 1 Illinois in soybean production this year, bean yields ranged from 20 to 50 bu./acre so far, with the state average in the 30s, state crop specialists told Reuters.

"We are 25-30% below last year. I'd guess we're going to be around 38 to 39 (bushels per acre)," said Palle Pederson, extension agronomist with the Iowa State University.

Iowa's average soybean yield was 48 bushels an acre in 2002. The USDA's 2003 yield estimate as of September was 39 bu./acre.

"The critical issue this year is small seed size. Farmers have to be careful how they set their combines so they don't lose them," Pederson added.

The BB-sized beans mean huge seed counts – running more than 4,000 soybeans per pound, or 1,000 seeds more than normal, agronomists told Reuters.

In Monday's weekly state crop reports, Illinois reported "disappointing" soybean yields and Minnesota crop conditions deteriorated two points in the past week with 26% of the beans rated good to excellent.

"I've been hearing numbers from single digits to the 25-35 range, which is down considerably from what we (Illinois) can produce. We're usually solidly mid-40s," said Don Meyer, an extension crop specialist with the University of Illinois.

USDA in its September report scaled back its soybean yield estimate for Minnesota by 6 bu. to 37 bu./acre.

"If anything, it's going to be below that. State-wide I think 35 bushels wouldn't be unreasonable," Seth Naeve, extension agronomist with the University of Minnesota told Reuters.

Active harvest was still about a week away in southern Indiana where soybean yields were expected to be better than last year. But northern yields have been disappointing.

"Yields are well below normal ... and most are coming in at 25 to 35 bushels on average," said Ellsworth Christmas, an extension agronomist with Purdue University. That compares to the state average of 43 bushels in 2002.

Indiana farmers were also said to be seeing a large discrepancy between high yields registered on combine monitors versus lower final yields. Agronomists attributed the variation to large drowned out patches in fields because of flooding in July.

Editors note: Richard Brock, The Corn and Soybean Digest's Marketing Editor, is president of Brock Associates, a farm market advisory firm, and publisher of The Brock Report.

To see more market perspectives, visit Brock's Web site at www.brockreport.com.