I didn't get to start the morning with him because my work schedule has been a little hectic, so I didn't join until late afternoon. But as soon as I got there, he slid over and let me take the wheel.
It might sound odd that he couldn't wait a day or two for my schedule to be better, but soybean harvest is very time sensitive. We have to wait long enough the plants are dry, but not too long.
If the plant isn't dry yet it's very tough to cut and clogs up the combine. Think about breaking a wet stick compared to breaking one that dry and brittle. The dry one snaps while the wet one is very tough to break.
However, if we wait too long, the pods can actually get so dry they bust open, sending the soybeans to the ground where we can no longer harvest them.
It was beautiful to combine this year. About a month prior, we had an airplane fly on a cover crop seed that was a mix of turnips, radishes, peas, crimson clover and triticale. That cover is coming up beautifully and will protect my soil all winter and early into the spring. Read more about our cover crops here!
Overall we were surprised and happy with our yields! We had a challenging late growing season with very little rain. Seed genetics - which have advanced tremendously in the last decade - helped us to deal with that lack of water. Additionally, my cover crop was still covering the ground which helps to retain water in the soil longer.
Soybeans are the number one crop for the state of Missouri. Missouri farm families grow so many soybeans because our soils and weather are good for growing them, plus we have established markets to sell them at.
Of the bean itself, 80% is soybean meal and 20% is soybean oil. Nearly all of soybean meal is used in animal feed. Of soybean oil, 68% is used for human food - baking and frying mostly - and another 25% is used for biodiesel and bioheat.
We still have about a week or so left of harvest, so make sure and follow us on Facebook for more #Harvest17 updates!