First crop harvest and second crop planting take over in late July and early August in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. This hot, humid, sub-tropical region allows for farming year-round. It’s always a fast-paced, hectic season for farmers, combine and cotton picker drivers, truckers, laborers, seed dealers, and for my family’s business, Garcia Grain Trading, as harvested crops are delivered to our grain elevators.
This year, in addition to harvesting corn, sorghum (milo), sesame and other crops, farmers are harvesting about 810 hectares, or 2,000 acres, of the unique soybeans developed for our region. Our varieties, Pamela GT and Lynda GT, have been yielding above both the Texas average yield of 2.3 metric tons/hectare, or 34 bushels/acre, and the U.S. national average yield of 3.4 metric tons/hectare, or 50 bushels/acre, which is very encouraging. We had hoped for even higher yields, as last year one field yielded nearly 4.8 metric tons/hectare, or 70 bushels/acre, but we’ve had a very rainy, challenging harvest season.
It seems like we’ve had a 5- to 7.6-cm, or 2- to 3-inch, rain event every week since May. That rain hampered combines and trucks getting into fields. The conditions significantly affected sorghum quality, but fortunately they didn’t have much impact on corn quality. These conditions contributed to varying degrees of shattering in soybean, or the soybeans breaking apart. The soybeans being harvested range between 11% and 15% moisture, with a weight of about 23.6 kg or 52 pounds per bushel. The soybeans look phenomenal, with just a few splits here and there.
I have collected samples of these varieties from the plot trials in soybean-growing regions of Texas that included them among others that we hope will perform well. We are looking forward to getting official data from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension for more detailed performance information. What we learn from those results will help farmers make informed decisions about how these soybean varieties fit in their rotational systems.
The rains that have slowed harvest are also delaying planting of the second crop for this year. Most farmers in our region plan on harvesting two crops from each field. The first crop is planted in late February or March and harvested in July or early August. The second crop is sown as soon after harvest as possible and harvested in November or December. When planted as the second crop in a field, soybeans should be in the ground by August 15. Due to the weather delays and the time it takes to work and pre-water the ground, we expect that area farmers will plant just about 200 hectares, or 500 acres, of these long-juvenal soybean varieties this fall.
Transportation Options Ensure Crop Delivery
As exporters of soybeans, corn, canola, rice, sorghum, sesame and more, harvest is just one critical business step for Garcia Grain Trading. We store crops at our six grain elevator locations throughout the area. And then we get those crops and others to our customers.
We rely first on roads for crop delivery. Right now, we are relying on trucking companies from the U.S. and Mexico to deliver the soybeans being harvested to our elevator and then to a crusher in Monterrey, Mexico. Our Progreso, Texas, location on the border between the U.S. and Mexico allows for efficient delivery of these soybeans after they leave our fields.
However, we take advantage of many other U.S. transportation systems to get products to customers. A railway spur to one of our locations allows us to efficiently bring in bulk U.S. products like dry edible beans from the Northern and Central Plains of the U.S. We serve as a link in delivering these products to other customers via truck, rail into Mexico or shipping ports.
We are located just about 245 km, or 150 miles, from the port of Corpus Christi, Texas. We truck commodities to that port for export to China and other locations. Because trucking schedules are full, we often backhaul commodities from that area back to our locations to send to Mexico via truck or rail.
Although we are on the Rio Grande River, it doesn’t serve as a waterway for barge transportation. However, many other U.S. exporters rely on rivers to move soybeans and other products from the U.S. Midwest to the Gulf of Mexico or through the U.S. Pacific Northwest.
Like all of the U.S. soy supply chain, we have seen the value we provide customers because of the variety of transportation options to effectively deliver products. As grain handlers and exporters, we can pass the value of our infrastructure on in the form of efficient, reliable product delivery. It’s yet another example of our strength and sustainability.
This U.S. soy exporter update is funded by the soy checkoff. To share or republish part or all of this article, please link to the original article and credit www.USSOY.org.