FARGO — A hot, dry summer was one of the ingredients that now has farmers in the Red River Valley harvesting soybeans about 20 days earlier than normal, and corn about a month early for what is predicted to be an average yield.

Despite the dry conditions, soaking rains — about 5 inches worth — during the last two weeks of August across much of North Dakota helped replenish much-needed soil moisture, said Matt Gast, a Valley City farmer involved with the North Dakota Soybean Council, in a Monday, Sept. 27, newsletter on USSoy.org.

“The timing of the rain was too late to make a difference for our earliest soybeans, but it did help many of our later fields fill pods better,” Gast wrote.

Soybean harvesting started weeks ago on the driest fields, but by mid-September harvest was moving at full speed, wrote Gast, adding that corn is maturing quickly and he expects average yields for the Red River Valley.

Randy Nelson, an educator for the University of Minnesota Extension in Clay County, said that while the soybean harvest has begun, most farmers in Clay County are still waiting to harvest corn, although in some places the work has already begun.

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Soybean and corn yields may be hit or miss for farmers depending on whether or not their fields received rain.

“From what I’ve been hearing is that a lot of the farmers have been pleasantly surprised with yields in soybeans. If you caught a rain at the right time your yields might be about average. A lot of farmers might have yields that are under because it was so dry, it just depends on where your fields are,” Nelson said.

In his newsletter, Gast said the Red River Valley has fared better than other parts of the Midwest.

“Much of our region of the northern U.S. plains suffered from drought this season, and crop yields in the most-affected states may be below average. But in our immediate area, we were fortunate not to suffer quite as badly, and our average yields will contribute to the reliable supply of soy produced in the U.S.,” Gast wrote.