This is an example of what area farmers are facing when trying to harvest crops this fall. Wet and muddy conditions have presented numerous challenges. The soybean harvest is nearly complete with the corn harvest just beginning.
“Challenging” would likely be considered an understatement by area producers when talking about this fall’s harvest.
Wet conditions throughout the growing season have extended into the harvest and made it difficult to get crops into the bin. A recent dry stretch has given a boost to the soybean harvest which is about 80 percent done and expected to be pretty much completed this week.
“We were pretty fortunate that it froze up and the last three weeks we’ve seen kind of a soybean run,” said Chad Voss of Agtegra in Langford. “And other than some fields that were really waterlogged with bad yields, some guys had some pretty decent averages.”
Voss estimated that about five to 10 percent of the beans in the Langford area will not get combined due to wet conditions, but he said this fall has been better than the harvests of 2008 and 2009 that many termed the “harvests from hell.”
“We’re more saturated now, but in those years we had ongoing snows that just wouldn’t melt and we couldn’t get the snow off the plants,” recalled Voss.
But that doesn’t mean there haven’t been plenty of frustrations along the way in dealing stuck equipment due to muddy conditions.
“Getting stuck in these fields is a little more chaotic than 10 years ago,” noted Voss. “Combines are not designed for getting stuck and getting pulled out. Back in 2009 a lot of guys had old, lightweight combines sitting around, but things have gotten bigger and heavier. A lot of guys have gone to tracks. Dual tires are now the normal and some guys are putting on triples. It’s pretty common to get stuck, but with the cost of equipment it’s a sick feeling when you do.
“Keeping combined dumped more frequently is a key, but getting trucks loaded on the roads is not easy either,” added Voss. “Farmers are conscious of trying not to mud up roads, but it’s hard and the mud sticks to everything.”
Full Circle Ag agronomist Joe Gustafson said the percent of soybeans harvested varied with individual producers but that most of the gettable beans should be in the bin by the end of this week.
“I’ve had some guys tell me that they won’t combine half of their bean acres,” Gustafson noted. “But the yields are mostly gone in those areas anyway with the wet conditions.”
Voss doesn’t expect those challenges to go away any time soon.
“With the beans we got lucky. The corn will be a little bit more challenging,” predicted Voss. “Historically, it’s hard for the ground to freeze up when it’s so wet. Corn fields act as a good insulator and when you get in the middle of a field it’s harder to see the wet spots, especially that new water hole that has never been there before.”
Farmers are beginning the corn harvest, but wet field conditions, coupled with wet corn, have made for slow going.
“There is really no hurry on the corn,” said Gustafson. “When the ground freezes that will be one less thing to worry about, but much of the crop is still around 25 percent moisture. But even with a good freeze is doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods. You still have that potential to drop through.”
Gustafson said the wet conditions this fall could very well make for an even more difficult spring.
“The hope is that the James River will continue to run all year. As long as it’s so high it slows down the drainage process, and it’s taking an awfully long time to drain.”
“The Jim River is a key for western Marshall and Day County and this was Jamestown’s wettest year, which doesn’t bode well for the Jim. I think it would be a miracle to get the Jim River where we would have some room for spring water. But it’s too early to tell. We’ve seen open winters, and things could improve. It’s just hard to say.”
Gustafson said conditions now are a pretty good indicator of what spring will be like.
“You just have to drive around and most of the water you see will still be here in the spring. We need a dry winter and an early spring if we’re going to get in any more acres than this year. But there is still going to be ground to farm.”
Despite the hardships, Voss gave credit to area producers.
“Agriculture isn’t easy. If it was, everybody would do it. But our producers are a tough breed of hardworking people.”