North Dakota soybean, edible bean farmers back behind the wheel
Ground made more solid by freezing temperatures have allowed combines into fields. Some are working around the clock, some in a patchwork fashion to harvest their crops.
Temperatures in the teens and 20s this week firmed fields, allowing farmers to harvest more of their edible bean and soybean crops.
Heavy rains, followed by a storm that dropped as much of 30 inches of snow on northeast North Dakota saturated fields, halted the harvest. But this week, little additional precipitation fell, and the ground froze enough for farmers to combine at least parts of some fields.
Larimore, N.D., farmer Steve Tveit has 700 acres of soybeans to harvest and is using the window of opportunity the drier weather and cold temperatures this week have given him to get the crop into the bin.
Like other farmers, Tveit is combining where he can, when he can.
“Day before yesterday, we went out at 4 a.m. and got snowed out at a quarter after 5, and we didn’t get going (again) until 10 a.m.,” he said.
Thursday, Oct. 31, was a dry day, so Tveit got in the field in the late morning and planned to stay there until late that night.
“Now that we’ve got this cold weather, it’s firmed up. We’re breaking through a little bit, but the combine is carrying a little better than before,” he said. “If we wouldn’t have had all that rain and snow, we would have been going three weeks ago. In a normal year, we’d be halfway done with corn by now.”
Though they can get in the field, it’s still rough going for farmers. Tveit is harvesting his fields in patches because even with freezing temperatures, some areas still are too wet to harvest.
“When we see the water, we cut around it,” he said.
Despite nearly a foot of rain and more than 18 inches of snow falling on his fields during the past two months, Tveit’s soybeans looked surprisingly good, he said.
“The quality has been fine,” said Tveit, noting there has been some yield loss. “The heavy snow broke off some of the branches off of the beans so we are losing some. We can’t get them because they’re lying on the ground.”
Barring breakdowns and getting stuck, Tveit said he hopes to finish the soybeans in his fields by next weekend. Then he has corn to harvest and then he will determine whether he can get back into his edible bean fields.
“The edibles, that’s another subject. I’ve got 110 acres left and there is water lying in the field from one end to another,” Tveit said.
In Steele County, N.D., south and west of Larimore, farmers were in their fields this week combining edible beans and soybeans, said Angie Johnson, Steele County extension agent.
“Freezing has really helped producers get out there and get their crops off,” she said. “We’ve had producers going every day this week, starting on Sunday."
“This morning when I came into Finley, there were producers lined up at the elevator getting ready to dump their soybeans,” Johnson said.
East of Finley, near Buxton, N.D., edible bean farmers in the Central Valley Bean Co-Op trade area also were harvesting, said Dan Fuglesten, general manager of the company in Buxton.
“It’s been a busy week,” he said. “It was a pretty quiet six weeks for edible bean harvest. I’m glad they got this window.”
Though conditions still aren’t ideal for harvesting, the quality of the edible beans is better than he expected it would be, given the excessive rains and snows that have fallen the past several weeks, Fuglesten said.
Farmers near North Dakota’s northern border also were harvesting soybeans this week, said Randy Mehloff, Langdon Research Extension Center director.
“I saw farmers going out at 8:30 a.m.,” said Mehloff, noting that other farmers are combining around the clock.
“I predict that a lot of soybeans will get off in the next three or four days,” he said.