Farmers are finishing up harvest

Posted November 21, 2018 at 7:59 pm

*Harvest corn.tif

By Dodie Hook and

Julie Ann Madden

With weather remaining fairly dry farmers in the area were out trying to finish up the harvest. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Iowa for the week ending Nov. 11, there were 4.0 days suitable for fieldwork as temperatures dipped below normal across much of the state. Eighty-three percent of the state’s corn has been harvested, three days behind the five-year average. Moisture content of field corn harvested averaged 16 percent. Soybean harvest was 94 percent complete, three days behind last year and four days behind the average.

In South Dakota according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service for the week ending Nov. 11, there were 4.1 days suitable for fieldwork. Corn harvested was 71 percent, behind the 79 percent last year and 85 percent for the five-year average. Soybeans harvested was 96 percent, behind the 99 percent of both last year and the average.

“It’s been a fall to test people’s patience,” said Iowa State University Extension Agronomist Joel DeJong. However, as of Monday, almost 100 percent of the soybean crop has been harvested, and about 90 percent of the corn in northwest Iowa. “There are lots who have their fields done but there is still some out there.”

“Harvest was slow to start because we were so wet during the month of September,” he said. “The first of September it looked like we were going to be done early but since then, we’ve had an extended time period when we were just wet. Almost every week we’d get a little more rain so you’d only get to work two, three or four days and then you’d have to be out of the fields again.”

That’s the biggest reason for harvest taking so long — we’ve just had so much moisture that everything has been wet and muddy so it’s been hard to get into the fields,” said DeJong.

“White mold wasn’t a big problem this year,” said DeJong, noting soybean crops had more of a problem with phomoesis in some fields. This is also known as pod and stem blight.

“We had the case where the beans were about dry enough to harvest, then it kept raining and they kind of got wetted up again and we had to just wait until the beans were dry enough,” he said. With corn, some was harvested before the beans were ready to go. Then it rained and corn producers were kept out of the fields, too.

“Most people are finishing or have finished with their corn harvest,” said DeJong, “but there are some neighborhoods where there is more corn out there.”

“We actually thought really early we would have a lot of corn stalk issues — corn stalks falling over with all the rain,” he said. “But, we didn’t have as much loss as early indicators were saying so we saw some of that. There have been some reports of mold in some ears.”

“In reality, the quality of the crop isn’t magnificent as it could have been,” said DeJong, “but it’s not as bad as it could have been either.”

“If we had been in the wet period and had temperatures 10 to 15 degrees warmer, we’d have had a lot quality issues — a lot more mold showing up in those crops.”

Yields have been a wide range — if you had ground that wasn’t well drained, the yields were really hurt,” said DeJong. “In general, corn and soybean yields, particularly in Plymouth County, for the most part, were pretty good this year because we had adequate rainfall. We didn’t have as much excess rainfall as they did as you got closer to Minnesota. We have soils that are pretty well drained. Because of that and since pollination time, we didn’t have many stress days heat-wise.”

“You put all that together and it typically means good crops,” said DeJong, “and I think a lot of people are reporting good yields — at least in this region right around here.”

“Although harvest is wrapping up, please note there is still going to be a lot of equipment on the roads,” said DeJong, explaining farmers are still trying to get manure hauled to the fields and cornstalks baled.”

“There’s still fall work that can be done,” he said. “We’re hoping for a window of opportunity to continue getting some of this fall work done before it snows and stops us.”

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