Farmers Report Frustration Amid Excessive Rainfall

12:00AM Oct 23, 2008
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Tanner Ehmke, AgWeb

Producers have continued struggling to make progress with fieldwork in recent weeks as uncooperative weather and excessive rainfall continues to prevail, according to reports on AgWeb Crop Comments.

Across the Central U.S., abnormally high levels of rainfall have been a common theme this fall with many farmers reporting non-stop rains. While the rains may be a terrific boost to the soil moisture for the newly planted winter wheat crop, the delays are causing frustrations in the harvesting of spring crops.

"With heavy rain today, and snow in central Nebraska, it will be several days before we are back in the fields. Stalk rot and mold are concerns," a farmer from Pierce County, Neb., reported on Oct. 23. "Without 2-3 weeks of dry, warm weather, much of the corn will have to be dried before being binned."

In Kansas, a farmer in Smith County also reported on Oct. 23 that the wet weather had been going non-stop for nine straight days - with up to 6” falling on one farm. The rains, he said, have only created complications. "Been one miserable year here with Mother Nature fighting us all the way this year. Wettest year since we've been farming (1976)."

USDA's weekly Crop Progress reports have supported farmers' reports of significantly delayed fieldwork. U.S. corn harvest last week was reported at 29% complete - lagging far behind the 5-year average of 53% - while soybean harvest was 67% complete, compared to its 5-year average of 74%.

Other crops are fairing no better with harvest progress. The cotton crop was 32% harvested last Monday, down from 38%; the sunflower crop was 13% harvested, under its average of 36%; and harvest of the sorghum crop was 46% finished, under its average of 57%. With last week's rains, farmers have indicated little improvement on harvest progress.

Not only have the rains brought fieldwork to a halt - leaving the crop to sit in the field longer with risk of leaving more bushels on the ground - moisture levels of freshly harvested corn have been high, translating into much higher drying costs for the farmer before the crop goes into storage.

In Melrose, Minn., corn moisture was reported at 25-30%. In Dickey County, N.D., moisture was 28-31%. And in north-central Iowa, corn moisture was even reported above 35%. Corn moisture is recommended to be at or less than 15% for storage. Higher levels of moisture raise the threat of mold damage.

With delayed maturity of this year's crops also a problem, farmers are looking for a freeze to close the door on the growing season and hasten harvest progress.

"A hard freeze would help," a Nebraska farmer said. "Our local ethanol plant is hurting for corn to maintain production."

You can e-mail Tanner Ehmke at [email protected]