I-80 Harvest Tour: How Good is the Nebraska Crop?

September 25, 2015 05:00 AM

Despite a field of full pods, this year has been pretty variable for Nebraska farmer Brandon Hunnicutt's fields.

“It’s not quite where I thought we would be at three or four weeks ago, but I think we still have a good crop,” said Hunnicutt, who farms in Giltner, Neb.

Hunnicutt says that’s because of Mother Nature. Three storms plowed through his area, bringing high winds and even some hail. That hurt some of his bean fields, stripping leaves off plants.

“It’s maybe not as much yield-damaging per se (with damage) to the ears or to the stalks, but it may affect us with drydown. Maybe we won’t have as good test weights as what we were hoping for. We had a field that had hail damage on it and still looked like it was going to make 60 bu./acre," said Hunnicutt.  When "the second storm came through, not only did it damage (the crop), but now we’re going to be highly variable going into the drydown season."

Watch the first segment of AgDay's 2015 I-80 Harvest Tour here: 

Despite the storms, Hunnicutt says he’s missed some rains while other areas of Nebraska got pelted with moisture.

“It’s very variable in the state, and it may be variable one field to the next just because of rain or timing of planting,” said Hunnicutt. He has yet to roll a combine to the field, but regardless of weather-related bumps, he anticipates some high yields, even on dryland.

“On our farm, I think we were anticipating about last year’s yields, maybe a little better," he said. "We may be backed off now because of the weather. ... Is it going to be a record yield? I don’t think so, but I think we’re going to have really good yields."

Just an hour southwest of Hunnicutt's farm, Alan Bonifas’ combine is no longer sitting idle. He’s halfway through soybeans, and yields are better than he expected. It could be a near-record for his operation.

“As a state, we’re probably above average. I think we could have been a record if the weather would have been better the last two or three weeks,” said Bonifas, who farms in Roseland, Neb.

Bonifas did not get the hail Hunnicutt did, and he also escaped heavy rains that swamped parts of Nebraska. He says his area seemed to be a drier pocket in the state this year. As a result, he feels his section’s yields won’t be as variable. “We haven’t had any rain since the first week of August, and the corn seems to have made it through July with hardly any rain," he said. "Compared to last year, we have a better outlook, because we had hail then. I think we’ll beat last year’s corn a little bit."

Still, just how big of a crop Nebraska farmers will cut this fall is still waiting to be answered. In addition to the weather challenges, growers said they've seen plenty of pest and disease pressure, including stalk rot, gray leaf spot, and Northern leaf blight. 

“Is [this harvest] going to be like the past?" Hunnicutt said. "No, but it’s still going to be good." 

How is your harvest going? Let us know in the comments or share your yields with AgWeb's corn and soybean harvest maps.

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