Crop Production: A challenging year

Posted November 21, 2019 at 10:25 pm

*j Harvest Randy Kroksh beans.tif

By Julie Ann Madden

Too much rain made for planting crops late and harvesting crops with high moisture content from the short growing season increased drying costs.

Then there was a shortage of propane for drying crops.

Top it off with worries about renewable fuel standards and Chinese trade issues.

And that about sums up the 2019 crop season.

“It was just a year that seemed like there were a lot of worries for a lot of producers,” said Iowa State University Extension Field Agronomist Joel DeJong in a phone interview Monday.

Farmers in western Plymouth County and eastern Union County also faced repeated flooding of the Big Sioux River.

“It never really dried out so they took their ‘Prevent Plant’ crop insurance payments,” he said, noting there were 2 million ‘Prevent Plant’ acres in South Dakota. “That’s tough on farmers but at least they got something with their crop insurance but all their input dealers didn’t get to sell their products — input suppliers had a terrible case, too.”

“April and May were terrible for getting work done (in the fields),” said DeJong. “We had some crops that got planted in the normal window (of time) but most were planted later than normal because it continually stayed wet.”

“We had pretty average growing conditions from June 1 through the end of the growing season but we had a very late start in a lot of fields,” he said. “With yields, it was a decent year but not a great year.”

Soybeans were 5 to 10 bushels per acre less than last year on the Iowa side, said DeJong. “In general corn yields were down from where we were a year ago, too. “

“Soybeans and corn yields both had quite a range,” he said. “We had some pretty good corn crops — if they got planted on time and had well-drained soils.”

“The later we planted we took a little more yield discount on the corn and soybean side,” said DeJong. “I’m not sure I’ve talked to many who said they did as well as last year.”

“We were short on yield compared to last year but last year was a very good year,” he said.

Next year? DeJong laughed at the question.

“Anytime we start the year with really pretty good subsoil moisture, that means we’ve reduced that drought risk for the next year,” he said. “So in reality the odds are that we could have a pretty good crop season next year.”

“However, we started that way this year,” said DeJong, “but the excess water created problems trying to find windows to get the job done on time — that potential awaits us also — but I’d rather start with a fairly full tank than an empty one.”

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