Fall Harvest Breath Of Fresh Air For Farmers
After back-to-back “harvests from hell,” this fall’s harvest was a breath of fresh air for area producers.
With the exception of a blast of snow near the end of October that temporarily halted the corn harvest, producers enjoyed generally good harvest conditions compared to the very wet falls of the past two years.
This year just .97 of an inch of moisture was recorded in September and 2.02 inches in October. That compares to 5.98 inches in September of 2019 and 3.6 inches in October of last year for a two-month total of eight inches, 4.61 inches above normal. Many producers were combining into December and some waited until spring to try and get into fields.
That came on the heels of a 5.34 total for those two months in 2018, nearly two inches more than the 100-year average of 3.39 inches for September and October.
“This fall’s harvest was good in a lot of different ways,” said Full Circle Ag agronomist Joe Gustafson in Britton. “Bushels were pretty good, along with quality, moisture, and harvest conditions. The elephant in the room was not being able to plant more acres.”
Very few producers in the region were able to plant more than 50 percent of their acres this spring due to the carryover of wet conditions from last fall. Some areas in the north part of Marshall County and the Hecla area reported that only about 15 percent of acres were planted.
Chad Voss of Agtegra in Langford reported that yields were a bit spotty in his area.
“Guys had some average corn and bean yields but with the amount of prevent planting it was hard to tell,” said Voss. “Some of the guys were only able to plant on hilltops and they tended to dry up a little. But I would say we had an average crop.
“The positive thing is that cash market prices have stayed pretty strong through harvest which isn’t usually the case,” added Voss. “Things also dried down pretty good and not a lot of propane was used. I think the guys are happy to be done with an early harvest after two harvests from hell in a row.”
The Hecla area received several big weather events with rain and wind this summer and as a result yields varied considerably.
“Yields were all over the board for both corn and beans,” said Brent Schoeder, location manager for Full Circle Ag in Hecla. “We had some green snap problems with corn and a lot of corn was mudded in and didn’t have a very good root system. I think the heat we had in August probably took about 10 bushels off the bean yields. But producers are in good spirits with commodity prices higher, and guys are working the field fence to fence this fall for the first time in several years.”
Curtis Samson of Muskrat Farm Supply in Eden said producers in his area probably averaged about 50 percent of acres being planted this year.
“Some guys had nothing in, and some guys got it all in, but in the hills some of our land is higher ground,” Samson noted. “The corn came out nice at about 15-16 percent moisture with yields 120-190 bushels and good quality. Beans were in the 30-50 bushel range, depending on when they were planted.”
Southeast North Dakota producers were also able to plant about half their acres this spring, according to Full Circle Ag location manager Betty Maly of Forman, ND, and yields were average.
“We averaged about 175 bushels on corn with 15-19 percent moisture. Beans were around 50 bushels with good test weight.”
Jorden Hill of Cropfax in Veblen said producers in his area were looking at one of the best crops ever until Mother Nature put a bit of a damper on things late in the growing season.
“To me it looked like we were set up for one of the better crops ever but just didn’t make it,” said Hill. “Yields were decent but not as good as I had hoped. We missed a lot of the rains in August and September and the crop showed it. We also got nipped a bit by an early frost that hurt both the corn and beans. A lot of the soybeans were in the mid-40’s and corn was in the 170-180 range.”
Hill said that the amount of rain recorded for the area for August through October of this year was the least amount in 20 years. The area also had a July wind storm that resulted in a fair amount of breakage.
Producers are optimistic for next spring. The early harvest and dry conditions have allowed considerable fall field work to be done for the first time in three years.
“We’re set up good for next spring,” said Gustafson. “Guys are getting a lot of fall tillage done, and we’ve been able to apply fertilizer this fall. Producers have also had an opportunity to deal with unplanted areas and address things like wheel tracks from the last two harvests that we just hadn’t had time to do before.”
“When we got that foot of snow or better it looked like another year when the field work was not going to get taken care of,” noted Hill. “But then it turned nice and I think everybody got everything done they wanted to.”
Most producers are in agreement that they are glad to put 2020 behind them and are optimistic for an improved 2021.
“We just knew this year was going to be tough, no matter what,” concluded Samson. “But this fall, guys have been able to do a lot of field work and I think we have a good chance of getting everything in next year. Corn is also at $3.50 for next year already. Everybody is optimistic compared to last year, and we live on hope.”
“This fall’s harvest was good in a lot of different ways. Bushels were pretty good, along with quality, moisture, and harvest conditions. The elephant in the room was not being able to plant more acres.” ----Joe Gustafson