Flood-damaged soybeans could result in marketing headaches; keep it separated

ST. PAUL — Farmers who have flooded grain after September's storms are advised to store it separately from their non-flooded grain. 

Bob Zelenka, executive director of the Minnesota Grain and Feed Association, advises farmers to bring in a representative sample of the damaged product to a local elevator or a USDA-designated agency that can provide an official inspection to determine the grain's marketability. Producers may contact MGFA to find a USDA-designated inspection agency. 

"I would encourage them to work with their local country elevator to determine the extent of the damage and the strategy for finding a market for those grains. There's a good chance that a lot of these soybeans are in good shape and they can market them with their other soybeans. They need to determine that first," Zelenka said.

Zelenka has heard of soybean processors that have expressed concerned about the quality of flooded grain. He said a couple have indicated they won't accept soybeans damaged by flooding.

"I think the country elevators might be more willing to work with their customers to determine how bad the problem is for an individual producer and work with them to recondition the grain, if necessary, or whatever needs to be done to find a market for them," he said.


Seth Naeve, a University of Minnesota associate professor of agronomy and plant genetics, said farmers who risk blending grain from flooded fields into their silo or bin risk getting the whole lot rejected when it's delivered to an elevator. Also, wet soybeans blended in could cause rotting problems. Flooded grain bears the risk of mold, which turns the seeds black, and mycotoxins.

"Instead of losing a few acres, they could lose a hew hundred acres," by blending, he said.

Elevators use a grain grading system to determine the quality of grain.

"Typically, they allow about two percent damage within the grain that's delivered," Naeve said, but he also advises farmers to check with their local elevator to see what will be accepted.

Keeping flood grain separated can also be helpful for accurate documentation for insurance and disaster relief assistance claims.

Perhaps a silver lining for crop producers in southern Minnesota is the timing of September's floods were not as bad as they could have been. Almost all of the region's soybeans were fully mature and ready for harvest, which likely made them less susceptible to damage than if they were still growing, said Naeve.

Speaking Oct. 7, he said some areas still had water in fields along crested rivers.

"In those flooded areas, we could have up to 100 percent damage (in soybeans)," he said. 


Other areas that had water on fields for a few hours could have virtually no damage. 

"And then the other piece of this is those acreages that were flooded, although significant, it's not the majority of acreages within those counties," he said. 

Naeve estimates no more than 5 percent of the state's acres were affected. 

Damage to corn ears was less extensive than to soybean pods, but corn producers could be facing other problems, like stalk rot.

"Farmers have to be diligent about getting out there and harvesting as quickly as they can. If the quality is good, they need to get in there and harvest," Naeve said.

Farmers should harvest non-flooded portions of fields first.

Producers who can't sell their flood-damaged grain should speak with their crop insurance provider. Other resources are Extension educators, the Minnesota Farmers Assistance Network or the Farm Advocate Program. 

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