September 29th, 2015
Harvest is on! If you have been watching the colors of the landscape turn from green to gold, you may also be seeing some harvest activities happening in Boone County or whatever part of the world you are in.
We have been anticipating a tough year, due to the excess amount of rain in the first part of the summer, combined with a shortage of rain to finish the crop out. We are still early in the harvest process, but I think we could make a couple of generalizations from what we have seen so far. The soybeans have been surprisingly good and the corn has been disappointing.
I’m not saying that soybeans will be better than average, but the yields we have seen so far have been higher than we have expected. Our combines take yield readings every second as we go across the field, and it has been interesting to watch the variation this year. There are definitely areas where too much water had a big negative impact, but there are also areas of the fields where we are seeing some tremendous yields. The “high” ground (I know that is a relative term in Indiana) are normally the lower yield areas of our fields, but this year the water seemed to help the crop and also get away quick enough not to damage it. The “lower” areas generally have better soil, but they definitely took a hit with water. Our field-average yields so far have gone from about 40 bushels per acre to a little over 60 bushels per acre and we are averaging in the mid-50s. If we can continue production like that, the soybeans will be better than we expected.
The corn has been all over the board. We harvested 18% moisture corn on September 14th. My Dad said that in all of his years of farming, he only harvested corn that dry, that early, in a severe drought year. Yes, the season ended in a slight drought, but we think the early dry-down of that corn was simply from stress…wet, dry, tough. We have seen waxy corn field-average yields at 102, 135, 145, 165, and right at 200. These fields have all been within a 10-mile radius and planted in a fairly similar time frame. The water was just so extreme, that every step made a difference this year. How good was the field drainage? Was the field planted too wet? What was the nitrogen program? Did the field get up and established before the next big rain? Was the ground worked or was it no-tilled? There are just a lot of variables this year.
When we start harvest, it’s always a good thing. It reminds us of the many blessings we have, even if we know the harvest could be better. It is also the time of year that we really appreciate our employees the most. It takes a tremendous amount of teamwork and dedication to complete all of the jobs necessary to bring in the harvest. There is also a bunch of work that can be done at this time of year to give us a head start on next year. We always say the month of October is the busiest month of the year. We just never run out of things to do. So, if your ever bored in the next few weeks, just come out to the farm!