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Wet Conditions Create Harvest Concerns

By Staff | Oct 27, 2009

Children aren’t the only ones reciting the old rhyme, “Rain, rain go away…”

Area farmers and grain handlers are joining in the chant as the grey skies of late and bouts of rain, drizzle and even snowfall have pushed the fall harvest back as the month of October draws to a close.

“This has been a bad fall. We’re really behind,” ISU Extension Field Agronomist Paul Kassel said late last week. “I know lots of people who are done, but there are people who are way behind, too. If you drive around the countryside, there are quite a few bean fields yet to go. And, of course, it’s a good crop to harvest. We just can’t get it done.”

The weekly report of harvest conditions for the state of Iowa shows 37 percent of the soybean crop has been harvested statewide as of the end of last week. This compares to 48 percent of northwestern Iowa bean fields — which were 78 percent harvested last year and are normally 85 percent harvested by this week.

The corn harvest is moving very slowly this Fall. Statewide, 10 percent of fields bearing corn have been harvested. Northwest Iowa is officially reporting just seven percent of its corn harvested in the weekly crops and weather report.

“Around here, we’re probably more like 10 or 15 percent finished. Last year, we were at 12 percent — and normal is 33 percent,” Kassel said. “I’d ignore that report, though. We’re typically done with beans the first 10 days of October, and most people are well into corn by late October. So, we’re about two to three weeks behind.”

This week’s offering of premiums by elevators and cooperatives also reflects the lack of harvested crops throughout the area.

Because of the prolonged rainy spells and lack of actual harvesting, many elevators have begun to see shortages of corn, with some elevators offering premiums for new harvest corn, at increased moisture levels, to be delivered. Statewide reports show average moisture levels last week were about 13-15 percent for soybeans and 20-24 percent for corn.

“Everyone’s short of corn,” Kassel added, “because we had a big crop last year, but we used it all with ethanol, feed use, exports and so forth. And then, because we’re being pushed so far behind on harvest this fall, … some of the elevators are giving incentives of higher grain prices or they’re discounting part of the drying costs.”