Sunday, November 2, 2014

#Harvest 14

Round 1 of Harvest '14 goes to mother nature.  This picture is Rick and Tony Merkel combining P9623AM on October 23.  Unfortunately, this has been a rare occurrence so far.  Her combination shots of jabs and uppercuts have us on the defensive.  Soybean harvest is maybe 50% complete in these parts and grain corn is maybe 10%, mostly driven by early harvest premiums.  Trends are being established and these are my observations so far.

Soybean yields have been on the plus side of 50 bu for the most part.  Six days of good soybean harvest weather in the month of October is just not enough to get all the acres harvested.  Early IP varieties that were ready a month ago are still standing thanks to lousy dry down conditions.  I cannot recall a year with this many acres of soybeans still out on November 1.  Some growers have already pulled the pin on IP premiums and gone into salvage mode.  I suspect the remaining acres will end up down the same path.
Most of the corn harvested to date was planted prior to May 12. Yields have been excellent, generally north of 180 bu.  There is a good crop out there. Test weights have been low with lots of reports of grade 3 and some grade 4.  The trade needs corn and they have not been fussy about quality.  As we get into the bulk of the acres planted in the last week of May we expect moisture to climb while test weights drift lower. How the elevator trade responds to a big crop of low test weight corn is still a guess. The job of the market is to buy the crop as cheap as they can.  Low test weight corn still has excellent nutritional value as livestock feed.

2. Maturity.
I have been accused and justifiably so, of being a supporter of full season genetics.  I hate leaving yield potential on the table and that is the main reason I shade recommendations toward fuller season soybeans and corn. Earlier hybrids like P9623AM and P9644AM are now 25-26% moisture while later hybrids like P0094AM and P0157AM are 30-32% moisture.  Five points of moisture on a 200 bu crop costs an extra $12 per acre to dry. With current prices at $4 per bushel, you only need 3 bu to cover the extra drying charge. The fuller season hybrids have been delivering that extra yield so far. In fact, the highest yield I have seen to date is a field length strip of P0496AMX at 225 bu and 30.5% moisture.  P0496AMX is a 3100 HU hybrid.  The question that still needs to be answered is how well full season hybrids hold up when we start harvesting more corn planted during the last week of May.

The story regarding soybean maturity vs yield is different.  Good early varieties are yielding the same or better than later varieties.  In our own plot, 91Y01 rated at 2775 HU ran 58 bu, the same as P19T01R which is rated at 3000 HU.  It is a glass half full or half empty type of comparison.  Good full season varieties have not delivered extra yield, but they have not delivered less yield either.  As already mentioned, early IP's (less than 2700HU) were ready back in the first week of October, but due to lack of combine power and elevators holding the line on moisture some of those beans are still out there.  Any delay in full season variety development to moisture has been a non factor due to the lack of good harvest weather.  After Thanksgiving passed everything was the same moisture regardless of maturity.

3. The Next Ones
Looking forward I have been impressed to date by a selection of new genetics that are being demonstrated on customers farms this year.  A summary of yield data data will be coming soon.
P0496AMX is bringing excellent agronomics, good test weight and grain quality characteristics to the 3100 HU zone.

P0157AM and AMX is a new 3050 HU hybrid.  Similar story as P0496 with respect to agronomics and grain quality.
 P9644AM and AMX is a new 2850 HU hybrid.
P15T83R has been impressive for a 2900 HU soybean in a cool year.  Interestingly, I would not have picked this variety as a consistent performer because it was yellow as a duck's foot in early July. This was especially true in no-till conditions where cooler soil temperatures seemed to be affecting N uptake by the plant. We are finding out with this new variety that looks can be very deceiving.

4. Speaking of New
Something to occupy his time when he is not spraying, blowing snow, helping neighbours or selling seed is Brian's new flail mower.
It is a mid mount Diamond mower with a 21' reach.  Keeping bush lines and creek banks clean can be time consuming.  If you are interested in pushing back brush and limbs that shade out crop and scratch machinery, give us a call.

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