Farmer Focus: US harvest sees pleasing soya bean yields

After lots of rain in September and the first few days of October, we got excellent harvest weather for the last half of October.

The corn crop was good; mine averaged about 9t/ha (the yield monitor showed places running about 12t/ha). The soya bean crop is the best I have grown in my 30-year farming career.

So far the best field yielded 4.2t/ha, almost twice our normal farm average. Even the fields that got damaged with hail yielded more than 2.5t/ha.

See also: Read more from our Arable Farmer Focus writers

Because of the good harvest, elevators started filling up a week after the soya bean harvest started. Many farmers in my area of Kansas do not store soya beans on the farm, so the elevators filling up put a lot of stress on an otherwise great harvest this year.

Downhill spiral

The cattle market continues its downward spiral, with prices the worst they have been in several years.

I think people who paid $3,000 a head for breeding heifers are probably having to do some very interesting accounting to show a profit, with weaned calves now fetching $600-700 a head at best.

There are plenty of folks predicting a snowy winter here based on the amount of rain we had this summer. I would like to believe it has about rained itself out and we can look forward to a nice, dry, open winter.

People in my part of the world predict the weather scientifically, using traditional proven methods like how bushy are the woolly caterpillars.

The worst winter in my lifetime was 1978-79 – the winter all others are now measured against. Back then, the last snow drift was ploughed away in the middle of May.

I like my theory best, that all the rain this summer means we won’t get much precipitation this winter, because it all has to average out, right?

Brian Hind farms 1,250ha of prairie land, of which 960ha is family-owned and the rest rented. Of this, 330ha is arable cropping with maize, soya, grain sorghum, alfalfa plus a mix of rye, triticale and turnips for grazing his herd of 400 beef cattle. Grassland is used to produce hay.