Many farm operators in Minnesota, northern Iowa and eastern South Dakota are experiencing some the best corn and soybean yields in their farming career. With the exception of areas that were damaged by severe storms, crop disease, or late season dryness, crop yields have been consistently quite strong. The combination of timely planting, manageable rainfall amounts early in the growing season, and favorable growing conditions throughout the growing season, across the region have resulted in these highly favorable crop yields in 2015.
As of October 19, soybean harvest is nearly completed in most areas of southwest and south-central Minnesota. Corn harvest progress is at 60-80% completed across the region. Harvest progress has been a bit slower in southeast Minnesota, which had more rainfall late in the growing season. In most areas of southern Minnesota, the first frost did not occur until mid-October, which allowed all crops to fully mature, and lead to higher-quality corn and soybeans at harvest, compared to 2014, when a mid-September frost ended the growing season prematurely in many areas.
Overall, most reported 2015 soybean yields have been good-to-excellent across the region, with many record-type yields being reported. It has not been unusual to hear of yield monitor and weigh wagon yields in some portions of southern Minnesota that were well above 70 bushels per acre, with a few even eclipsing 80 bushels per acre, in soybean fields that followed several years of corn production prior to 2015. Whole-field yields of 55-70 bushels per acre were reported extensively across the region. Whole-farm soybean yields of 50-60 bushels per acre were quite common in many areas of western and central Minnesota which is excellent for most of those areas. Many producers have commented on how uniform soybean yields were in 2015, compared to most other years.
2015 corn yields across the region have been a bit more variable, however, yields have still been well above average for most producers. There have been many whole-field yield reports of over 200 bushels per acre in southern Minnesota, with some final yield figures exceeding 225 bushels per acre. Areas that were impacted by some late season dry weather patterns or by corn diseases probably had average field yields in the 180-200 bushel per acre range. Corn yield reports from western and central Minnesota have been reported from 170 to 200 bushels per acre, which is well above average in most areas. Once corn harvest is completed, most farm operators in southern and central Minnesota will likely end up with corn yields that are above average, with exceptional corn yields on some farms.
Another piece of good news for all producers regarding the 2015 corn harvest has been the harvest moisture of the corn coming out of the field, and the high quality of the corn. Most of the corn being harvested in south-central Minnesota in the past two weeks has been at 16-20 percent moisture, meaning only minimal additional drying is required before the corn is placed in on-farm bins for storage. Corn should be dried to about 15-16 percent moisture before going into the grain bin for safe storage until next spring or summer. Most of the corn being harvested has a test weight of 56-58 pounds per bushel, which is very near the standard test weight of 56 pounds.
There has been very little rainfall since mid-September, and field conditions are quite dry, which greatly increases fire danger to remaining corn fields, as well as to farm equipment. Extreme caution is advised during harvesting, especially on windy days. Some rainfall would be beneficial to alleviate the fire danger, as well as for improved topsoil conditions for fall tillage operations. Cooler temperatures will also make conditions much more favorable for fall nitrogen and manure applications.