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Soybeans 'recovered nicely' with help of August rains

Farmers harvest soybeans northwest of Mitchell back in October. (Matt Gade / Republic)1 / 2
Soybeans begin to dry out just before harvest season.(Republic file photo)2 / 2

Late summer rains saved the day for South Dakota's soybean farmers.

Despite drought in the early part of the growing season, last-minute rains boosted soybean production across the state, surprising many area producers in southeastern South Dakota, according to Matt Bainbridge.

Bainbridge, a farmer in Ethan and newly elected chairman of the South Dakota Soybean Research & Promotion Council, said many producers and farmers were shocked by the high yields after a brutally hot and dry summer.

"Everybody was very surprised with yields. We had decent amount of late rain that really seemed to help the yields quite a bit. It's amazing the recovery that (the soybeans) made because in July everything looked pretty tough," Bainbridge said. "The soybeans really love the August rain and they really recovered nicely."

The soybean condition, as of mid-October, rated 44 percent good with 34 percent fair, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). Approximately 8 percent of the soybeans in South Dakota were rated excellent while 11 percent rated poor and 3 percent at very poor.

And by the end of October and early parts of November, soybean harvest was nearly complete. The NASS released a crop and condition report that found soybean yields, as of Nov. 1, for South Dakota at approximately 45 bushels per acre, down 4.5 bushels from 2016.

Despite an average yield slightly down for the state, area counties are estimating yields both below and above this figure. Davison County is expecting a yield between 39 and 41 bushels per acre for soybeans, nearly the same as 2016.

In 2016, an estimated 5.17 million soybeans were harvested in South Dakota, yielding approximately 49.5 bushels per acre. Still, the 2017 yields are well above the average yields from five years ago, when an estimated 40 bushels per acre were reported in 2012.

While soybean production is slightly down in South Dakota, producers across the country are doing well. For 2017, the NASS reports an average of 49.5 bushels per acre across the United States, with 90.207 million acres planted and 89.471 million acres harvested — the most planted in recent years.

While the state average sits at 45 bushels per acre, Bainbridge said soybean yields may even be slightly better in southeastern South Dakota. Bainbridge added that parts of the state that saw higher rainfall had some white mold issues that hurt yields.

But for the most part, he said, soybeans are looking good in South Dakota.

"All we need now is a little recovery in prices, and it'll be all right," he said.