Archive for Saturday, September 23, 2000

Green beans dock prices

Some elevators refuse to take crops hit by heat, drought

September 23, 2000


Soybean harvest is so poor many Kansas elevators have refused to take the beans from farmers.

Scorching temperatures during the parched summer heavily stressed the state's soybean crop. Damage is widespread in Kansas, and extends as far as western Missouri and Illinois, officials say.

Tom Meyer, president of the Kansas Grain Inspection Service, said Friday that all of the agency's nine inspection offices had seen samples with a high concentration of green-damaged beans beans that did not mature properly with the damage prevalent all over the state.

That means lower prices for producers, and that's only if they can get any takers at all.

"We see green-damage soybeans yearly, but not on this widespread an area and not near this severe," he said.

Many fields are so bad some Kansas elevators are refusing to accept the green-damaged beans or if they are, they're docking prices to account for the beans that make green oil.

"They have been forced to because there is no market," said Tom Tunnell, president of the Kansas Feed and Grain Assn., the industry group for the elevators. "It is hard to quantify but I think the situation has been fairly evident statewide."

Some buyers have lowered their allowance for green damage to 12 percent, and some including the Lawrence-based Farmers Cooperative Assn. are accepting beans with as high as 20 percent damage. But after those levels, if there is no market, there is nothing the elevator can do, Tunnell said.

The FCA, which has 16 elevators in northeast Kansas, already has taken beans with 17.4 percent damage. Just last year, the limit was 8 percent damage.

The damaged beans are drawing "severe" penalties, said Jim Hanson, an FCA grain buyer. A load with 15 percent damage gets docked about 47 cents a bushel, or about 10 percent off Friday's price of $4.53.

Two of the area's biggest customers Cargill in Kansas City, Mo.; and Bunge in Emporia are accepting up to 20 percent damage, Hanson said, but paying low dollar.

"I don't know that we've ever had a crop this bad before," Hanson said. "The trade is caught by surprise, as well as the producers, too. It's difficult adjusting to know what to do with it all."

Many farmers opted to bale their soybeans for hay earlier in the season in an effort to salvage some value, but many others just waited in the hope the rains would come and they could still harvest the beans or collect crop insurance.

Farmers who still have soybeans stored on the farm from last year are also blending those beans into this year's crop to reduce the percentage of damaged kernels.

Probably the worst soybeans in the state came from a nearly 50-mile radius of Emporia, which missed out on all the rains and had extreme temperatures, Morrice said.

Other Kansas crops were not hurt as badly by the prolonged heat and dry weather. Sampling by the Kansas Grain Inspection Service shows corn and sorghum crops in Kansas have few problems, Meyer said.

Meanwhile, elevators continue to dump increasingly bigger piles of milo on the ground as they struggle to find room for all the unsold winter wheat and the new corn crop.

As of Friday, state-licensed grain elevators had asked for permission to store 21.5 million bushels on the ground or in temporary facilities. Federally licensed elevators asked for 15.4 million bushels of emergency storage space.

The nearly 37 million bushels they expect to put on the ground this harvest compares to more than 70 million dumped on the ground a year ago, when crops were more abundant and before additional storage facilities were built, Tunnell said.

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