It was just three short weeks ago that these soybean fields were still looking green and lush. Things do change quickly this time of year – both of the fields we have been watching will be ready to harvest very soon!
This is the single-crop soybean field. Three weeks ago, the leaves on the soybean plants were starting to turn yellow, but there was still a lot of green to be found. By now, most of the leaves have turned yellow and fallen off.
As the plants die, the soybean pods (and the soybeans inside) dry out. These have a little more drying to do before they are ready to harvest, but they are getting close.
Even though things are getting dry, the soybean pods still have those little hairs on them that help to keep the bugs off.
Here is the double-crop soybean field. Remember what it looked like three weeks ago? Still plenty of green, and barely any yellow leaves in sight. This one is looking like it will be ready to harvest at about the same time as the single-crop field. Even though it was planted later than the first field, it was planted with a different variety of soybeans. This variety didn’t grow quite as tall, and matured a little faster, so it will be ready to harvest about the same time.
Just look at all those pretty, fuzzy soybean pods!
These plants still have more leaves left than the first field, so they are not quite ready yet. But things will still change very quickly, and in no time at all they will be ready to harvest!
This can be a tricky time of year. If the soybeans are harvested too soon, they will still have a high moisture content and will need to be stored and dried before they can be sold. (This takes time, electricity, and a lot of money invested.) If the soybeans are harvested too late, the pods will start to break open and the soybeans will fall on the ground. This means a loss of some of the crop for the farmer. Farmers are out checking their fields on an almost daily basis this time of year so they can time their harvest just right.
Farmers will be traveling the roads with their big equipment a lot for the next few weeks. Please pay attention, and try to be patient and courteous when you see a tractor or a big piece of farm equipment on the road. Remember, farmers will do their best to get out of your way, but sometimes they can’t move over to let you pass right away until they get past that ditch, or that mailbox, or that telephone pole. Drive a little slower, and try to be patient!