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Should You Harvest Beans in December or Wait Until Spring?

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Should You Harvest Beans in December or Wait Until Spring?

December 2 was the last time soybean harvest progress numbers were released. As of that date, 15 percent of the state’s soybeans still needed to be harvested. With rain that fell last week and snow the beginning of this week, not much progress was made.

With these acres of beans left in the fields, it’s weighing on a lot of farmers’ minds. Mike Staton, MSU Extension Soybean Educator, said getting those beans out of the field is a challenge.

“It’s really a balancing act,” he said. “When you have beans that wet, the first thing you do is make sure the pods are dry enough to open up. You’re not going to be able to get in there and harvest them if you can’t get the pods open. Pods have to be dry enough to thrash.”

For the beans that are still in the fields, Staton suggests avoiding making any harvest ruts because those could have longer effects. If you can cut your soybeans, some elevators will take those beans.

“Technically you can harvest soybeans anytime after they’ve dried to 20 percent or below, and many elevators will still take them at 18 percent,” said Staton. “You need to call your delivery point and make sure whether or not they’ll take them at 18 [percent].”

If we were to get a snowfall that would further prevent the crop from being harvested, some farmers are thinking if they should wait until spring to harvest.

“I want to be careful and do not recommend it, [but] the worst case scenario, if you absolutely cannot get beans harvested, try again in the spring when things dry off or maybe this winter when you get some drying conditions,” he said. “There’s just too much risk with that practice I really cannot recommend it.”

As for resources for managing and storing wetter soybeans, Staton suggests articles from Dr. Ken Hellevang of North Dakota State University as well as articles from MSUE News.

As of Monday’s crop progress report, 24 percent of Michigan’s corn is still in the fields, while the nationally only 8 percent is left to harvest.