Michigan’s Thumb area field crop regional report – October 11, 2012

Harvesting is moving quickly and giving better than expected outcomes.

Harvest is going exceptionally well this fall. Since mid-September, there have only been a few days when light rain has kept growers from the field. The following provides a few unofficial observations and estimates on specific crops in Michigan’s Thumb region.

Dry edible beans

Harvest was significantly delayed this season due to the regrowth beans initiated following significant rainfall during early August after weeks of very dry conditions. Desiccants were widely used to help dry the crop and, in some cases, late emerging weeds.

Currently, nearly all the crop is harvested. Yields have ranged from near zero to over 30 bags (50 bu) per acre. The average yield across all bean types may prove to be between 18 and 20 bags per acre for the Thumb. Despite the tricky dry-down of the crop, bean quality appears to be very good.


Even with droughty conditions this season, soybeans are coming in with yields significantly better than many anticipated. Perhaps 80 percent is in the bin in this area. While some soybeans on coarse-textured soil, or fields that simply missed the spotty rains, ran less than 30 bushels per acre, the majority of the crop is ranging between 35 to 60 bushels per acre. Most of the soybeans were harvested at moistures near or below 12 percent. This relatively low moisture level, along with some fields with low setting pods, probably led to above average harvest losses.


Due to the season’s drought, a few thousand extra acres were harvested as silage or high moisture corn to meet the needs of Thumb area dairy and beef farmers. The prospects for some of these fields, had they been left for grain, would have provided less than 100 bushels per acre.

Harvest for dry grain began in earnest this past week. Corn harvest got underway to a significant extent during the past week. To date (October 11), maybe 10 percent of the grain is harvested. However, if the weather holds, growers are likely to harvest aggressively during the next several days. As with the other crops, yields are better than expected with growers reporting yields mostly in the 130 to 160 bushel range. Again, there are some pockets throughout the Thumb where yields are known to be some 40 bushels on either side of this range. For the fields already harvested, grain moistures mostly ran 18 to 24 percent. Stand health is a concern as most fields show evidence of weak stalks and ear shanks.


Arranged early-harvest sugarbeets have been delivered over the past couple weeks. Yields have been fairly good, particularly given the season’s lack of rainfall. Sugar content has been running approximately 18 percent and is expected to improve later this month. The majority of the crop will likely be harvested during the second half of October if the weather holds. The main harvest will find yields below that of the past couple seasons, mostly ranging from 20 to 35 tons per acre.


Growers have already planted lots of acreage, encouraged by market prices, and open fields due to early soybean harvest. Much of the planted wheat has already emerged. This early start is reminiscent of the fall of 2010 and bodes well for the 2012-2013 crop.

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