Sail Through Your Country Home Purchase With Our Water and Septic Tips

Unlike the “similar-style” homes found within many urban developments, no two rural properties are the same – especially when it comes to water sources and septic systems. That’s why it’s important to work with a lender who understands the unique features found on farms and acreages. Our tips will help you evaluate water sources and make a sound decision about your move to the country.

Check Availability: Before buying or building in the country, one of the most important factors to consider is water service to the property. Some rural properties have the advantage of being hooked up to municipal utilities or rural water districts, but many rely on private wells and septic systems.

For properties that already have a well and septic system, determine if the water source is available year-round, including during periods of drought. It’s also important to know the exact location of the water pump, pressure tank and control switch, septic tank and drainage field.

For properties that do not have a well or septic system, consider how drilling and installation fees will add to the total property investment.

Inspect for Quality and Quantity: Groundwater quality and quantity can differ greatly over short distances. A well’s output can change over time, too. Performing a well potability test to determine if the water is safe and free of contaminants, and measure the well flow rate and recovery rate to ensure there is sufficient water pressure and supply.

Existing septic systems should be evaluated based on condition, age and size to confirm the unit is in good working order and can support the number of people living on the property.

Minimum distances between wells and septic systems should be verified to avoid contamination, and the absence of tree roots in the drainage field confirmed to prevent future damage to the system.

Click for more information about buying or building in the country.

Ripening corn

Combines – and planters – rolling

A string of clear weather days jump-started harvest. In the 18 reporting states, 16 percent of corn and 14 percent of soybeans are combined, compared to 11 percent and 8 percent on average.

All of the states in our service area are ahead of average in development and harvest:

Corn dented Corn mature Corn harvested
Sept 24 Average Sept 24 Average Sept 24 Average
Iowa 97 94 74 51 5 3
Kansas 98 96 80 69 30 27
Nebraska 98 96 69 53 9 6
South Dakota 98 92 67 43 5 3
18 States 97 93 72 53 16 11


Corn condition continues favorable, with the 18-state rating improving one point in the top categories to 69 percent and the bottom two unchanged at 12 percent. The rain was too late to boost the Kansas crop into better-than-half good/excellent; it stands are 47 percent, while 26 percent falls in the bottom categories. South Dakota is slightly below average, at 63 percent good/excellent and 18 percent poor/very poor. Both Iowa and Nebraska are above average.

Soybean progress and harvest also are ahead of average, by a wide margin in some states.

Dropping leaves Harvested Condition
Sept 24 Average Sept 24 Average Good/excellent Poor/very poor
Iowa 72 49 8 3 22 7
Kansas 49 43 2 2 60 10
Nebraska 84 69 13 6 83 6
South Dakota 83 74 12 6 61 15
18 States 71 57 14 8 68 10


Grain sorghum’s progress is closer to average, and more of a mixed bag, with several measures behind average.

Coloring Mature Harvested
Sept 24 Average Sept 24 Average Sept 24 Average
Kansas 93 90 32 33 6 6
Nebraska 95 97 48 41 6 4
South Dakota 85 90 24 35 1 4
18 States 94 90 50 53 30 32


Condition is better than average in our service area. Nebraska is rated 84 percent good/excellent and 2 percent poor/very poor compared to the 11-state average of 55 percent and 2 percent; Kansas is 71 percent and 7 percent; and South Dakota, 67 percent and 5 percent.

Winter wheat planting

Even as corn and soybeans are coming out of the field, 28 percent of the winter wheat crop is planted, two points ahead of average. Kansas farmers have 21 percent in, compared with 16 on average; Nebraska is three points behind average at 53 percent; and South Dakota is six points ahead of average at 53 percent.

Rains have helped Kansas pasture and range condition, which has reached 50 percent good/excellent. That compares with only 29 percent at the start of August. However, 17 percent remains in poor or very poor condition.

Green ripening soybean field, agricultural landscape

Whopping yields: Too good to be true?

It isn’t over until it’s over, but USDA data and projections point to record yields in many states.

National corn yields are projected to hit 181.3 bu/acre., up 2.9 bu. from the August estimate. The result is a projected 14.8 billion bushel crop for 2018, which is below 2016’s record but ahead of 2017 yield. Ten states (designated by the # sign on the map below and including Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota) are pegged to have record yields.

Rain has made grain: Both ears per acre and implied ear weight are exceptional. Production outstripped the highest industry expectation by 200 million bushels.

corn yield september 1 2018

Producers with reasonable costs whose yields are on or above the average should be able to “bushel through” this year’s tight margins, especially with the help of the Market Facilitation Program. Soybean yields also have been bumped higher to a record 52.8 bu./acre, 1.2 bu. above August and 3.7 bu. or 7.5 percent higher than last year. The result would be record soybean production of 4.69 billion bu., up from the August projection of 4.39 billion. Like corn, 10 states (including Iowa and Nebraska) will see record yields, USDA projects.

soybean yield September 1 2018

Progress and Condition

The yield estimates reflect crop condition at this point in the crop year. USDA rated the corn crop one point better in the good/excellent categories, at 68 percent, and stable in the bottom two. Nebraska is top in our service area at 82 percent in the top categories, followed by Iowa (73 percent), South Dakota (64 percent) and Kansas at just 46 percent.

In the 18 reporting states, corn is reported:

Dent: 86 percent Average 75 percent
Mature: 35 percent Average 21 percent
Harvested: 5 percent Average 3 percent

All but one of the states we serve is on or ahead of average for harvest. Nebraska, at 43 percent harvested, lags its average by six points

corn progress sept 12 2018

Soybeans remain ahead of average as well, with 31 percent dropping leaves compared with 19 percent average.

Condition improved two points from last week on the top end of the scale, to 68 percent, and one point on the bottom end, at 10 percent poor/very poor.

soybeans progress September 12 2018

Given the stage of the crop and its moisture requirements, most of Iowa and nearby states have excess moisture, though there is still time for things to dry down before harvest.

Corn moisture index September 8 2018

The Florence Factor

While North Carolina is not a corn or soybean powerhouse, it is a feed-deficit state, so any crop losses related to Hurricane Florence there can ripple back up the transport chain. Soybeans are planted in all 100 counties in the state, from the mountains to the sea – totaling 1.6 million acres in an average year. USDA forecasts 1.59 million to be harvested this year. However, most are grown in the eastern third of the state.

Hurricane Florence factor

Corn’s pattern is very similar, but accounts for about half as many acres, with 870,000 projected for harvest as grain this year. So far, 43 percent has been harvested.

As Hurricane Florence spins her way to landfall, it is expected to penetrate the state, with winds of 150 mph and deluges of 15-30 inches of rain. Crop damage is a given; even stored grain may in peril.

Last year, the state’s corn crop amounted to 119.3 million bushels and soybeans, 67.6 million – both less than 1 percent of national production, but potentially important to the protein producers in the state, assuming they don’t also experience extreme losses.

Hurricane Florence NOAA

hands holding soybeans

Busheling through 2018: The Difference Yield and Federal MFP Payments Make on Farm Income

The two main legs of crop income every year are Yield X Bushels. Crop insurance provides a third leg and government payments a fourth.

In its September 12 Crop Production report, USDA forecast record corn and soybean yields for 10 states and the nation.

While federal ARC payments are expected to be minimal this year, as intended by the 2014 Farm Bill, the government is offering direct payments under a one-time Market Facilitation Program (MFP) to producers whose commodities are negatively impacted by trade disputes. In our territory, the MFP will benefit soybean, grain, hog and dairy farmers.

USDA last week announced MFP commodity rates and the rules and process for applying for payment. Unknown until producers have completed harvest or know their final production numbers is how much impact MFP payments will have on individual 2018 farm incomes. But simple scenarios involving two hypothetical farmers shed some light on the benefit of MFP payments.

For our scenarios, we applied MFP to soybeans. Our assumptions are straightforward and do not take into account the complexities and realities of day-to-day production. We use a production cost of $9.50/bu., or $475 an acre and an APH of 50 bu., with our producer having sole ownership of his crop.

soybean marketing opportunities

For sales prices, we used monthly average November 2018 futures prices and subtracted Iowa monthly average basis. The resulting $7.75 and $9.50 are for illustrative purposes and may not fit your specific situation.

In the first scenario, everything goes right for our producer. He knows his all-in production cost and took advantage of the $9.50 pricing opportunity earlier this year, relying on his crop insurance to forward market 80 percent of his APH to lock in $380 an acre. Because he benefited from the year’s good growing conditions, he actually harvests 60 bu./acre. This leaves him 20 bu. to sell at a lower price of $7.75 for $155 per acre.

Our farmer already has made a profit of $60, thanks to his forward marketing and solid yield. Now he applies for his MFP payment. As required by USDA, he reports his total yield of 60 bu./acre. But under this first installment of MFP, the government applies its reimbursement rate of $1.65 for beans to half his yield – or $49.50. Our producer’s per-acre profitability is now $109.50. His profitability will increase if the government decides later this year that a second payment is warranted.

In scenario No. 2, our producer did not forward market and has an average yield of 50 bu./acre. He needs the cash and sells his crop at $7.75, or $387.50 per acre – a loss of $87.50. Even after applying his MFP payment (25 bu. x $1.65 = $41.25), he has lost $46.25 per acre.

This scenario becomes much more positive if farmer No. 2 grows another 10 bu./acre, a reasonable assumption for many growers this year. With more beans to sell and to apply to his MFP payment, he now has a per-acre profit of $39.50.

What do these scenarios tell us? Producers with a reasonable cost of production and solid yields could bushel through 2018, with some additional help from MFP.

Steady as she goes

Crops are marching their way to the finish line with promise of a touchdown. As of September 2, status in the reporting states was:

Corn dough stage: 96 percent, average 91 percent

Corn dented: 75 percent, average 60 percent

Corn mature: 22 percent, average 11 percent

Soybeans dropping leaves: 16 percent, average 9 percent

Sorghum headed: 96 percent, average 95 percent

Sorghum coloring: 69 percent, average 62 percent

Sorghum mature: 30 percent, average 33 percent

Sorghum harvested: 22 percent, average 23 percent

Spring wheat harvested:  87 percent, average 75 percent


Condition is little changed from a week ago and overall continues better than last year.

Corn is rated 87 percent good/excellent and 12 percent poor/very poor, 1 point lower on the high end than a week ago and 6 points better than a year ago.

Soybeans are unchanged from last week, with 66 percent in the top categories and 11 percent in the bottom two. This compared with the same number in the bottom categories and 5 percent more in the top categories than last year.

Sorghum, at 52 percent good/excellent in the 11 states, is 1 point below last week, but 11 points behind last year. Its bottom two categories, at 17 percent, compares with just 8 percent last year. Texas and Missouri represent the highest numbers in the bottom categories.

The table includes a few surrounding states:

Corn Soybeans Sorghum


Poor/very poor


Poor/very poor


Poor/very poor






















South Dakota








Recent rains helped pasture condition improve a couple points at each end in the 48 states. Drought-stressed Kansas now has 27 percent in the bottom two categories and 38 percent in the top two. This compares with 25 percent in the bottom and 34 in the top two months ago (July 2). The first report in May showed 29 percent in the bottom categories and 25 in the top two.

pasture and crop condition for Kansas