Fall Harvest Still Struggling to Near Completion

November 23, 2008 06:00 PM
Tanner Ehmke, AgWeb Editor

After struggling with weeks of delays caused by inclement weather, fall harvest is dragging on into the winter months with recent snows and rains adding to the complications, according to farmer reports on AgWeb.

Corn harvest normally is virtually complete as November comes to a close, based on USDA data. Last week, USDA reported corn harvest at 78% complete, compared to the 5-year average of 94%. But due to an overabundance of rainfall – now with snow following behind in the northern Midwest – farmers indicated that harvest still is struggling to make progress.

"I'd say 50% of the corn is still out in this area,” according to a Nov. 18 Crop Comment from Monroe County, New York. "And if the weather stays snowy it will be after Christmas before it's all in the bins.”

Harvest in Iowa, the chief corn-producing state, is also still inching forward. "There is still about 20% of corn in the field here in Northeast Iowa,” wrote one AgWeb reader on Nov. 21.

Others, though, have benefited from drier, more favorable conditions and are looking to bring this year's harvest to a close. In south-central Nebraska, harvest is quickly entering its final stages. "When it resumes from the latest rain delay, another 5 days will pretty well finish it,” according to one report on Nov. 21.

Corn isn't the only crop, though, suffering from weather related delays. Harvest of the grain sorghum, or milo, crop is also dragging its feet. Last week, USDA reported milo harvest at 78% complete, down from the 5-year average of 87%.

In Graham County, Kan., half the milo crop is still unharvested, according to one Crop Comment. USDA reported milo harvest in Kansas, the main milo-producing state, at 73% last week, compared to its 5-year average of 89%.

"The 2 weather fronts the past month with 50 and 60 mph constant winds for 8 to 16 hours has taken its toll, mostly on the milo,” the report says. "We can harvest 1 or 2 days, and then sit for 5 days to a week to allow the crops to dry down below where our grain companies will take it.”

A Lane County, Kan., farmer reported that milo yields ranged from high to low depending on where it rained. "A lot of milo made only 25 to 35 bu/acre on the low end to 75 to 80 on the upper end," according to the report. 

However, weather isn't the only discouraging factor troubling farmers who are wanting to bring this crop year to an end. The price of corn and milo both have suffered huge losses in the last few months - falling by more than half since peaking earlier this year. The steep fall in commodity prices alone has been enough to dampen spirits as harvest struggles along. 

"With (milo) prices of only $2.79/bu.," the Lane County farmer wrote, "many farmers clearly weren't in that big of a hurry to get things done.”

E-mail Tanner Ehmke at tehmke@agweb.com.

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