Harvest season nearing end
MARSHALLTOWN – Thanks to relatively dry and mild conditions over the past several days, harvest season in Iowa has meant a rush of activity with area farmers being able to harvest much of their corn and soybeans.
“Phenomenal harvest progress has been made the past two weeks, and farmers are now nearly on pace with the five-year average, with 82 percent of the corn and 96 percent of soybeans out of the field,” said Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey said on Monday.
According to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, there “were 6.6 days suitable for fieldwork to harvest just over one-fifth of the state’s corn crop during the week ending Nov. 9.
This was the most days suitable statewide this crop season.”
Other activities for the week included fall tillage, manure and fertilizer application, corn stalk baling and tiling fields.
The report said 82 percent of Iowa’s corn acreage was harvested, two days behind 2013 and one day behind the five-year average.
Corn harvest advanced 21 percentage points from last week, the most harvested during this week in November since 1993.
Soybean harvest reached 96 percent complete, three days behind last year but at the normal pace.
Iowa State University Extension Field Agronomist Mark Johnson said Central Iowa farmers are nearly finished with their harvesting efforts.
“In (Marshall County and Central Iowa), beans are virtually all gone,” he said, “and the corn is at 80 percent.
“It really has moved along the past 10 days. With what little rain we got, there’s enough slope, that it hasn’t been an issue.”
Johnson said while it has not been a record-breaking year, on average, it’s still remains a good year in terms of corn and soybean yields.
Many area farmers planted late this season, Johnson said, and so many crops didn’t mature until later in the year … and because of consistent moisture levels, the results have been mostly positive.
“Overall, it was quite a good year, just not record breaking, but obviously, most years are not record-breaking,” he said.
Roger Zylstra agreed.
Zylstra, a Jasper County farmer and chairman of the Iowa Corn Growers Association, said he wrapped up his corn harvest last week.
“The corn is rapidly coming out,” he said. “I think if I had to guess, in southeastern Jasper County the harvest is 80 to 85 percent complete.”
But harvesting corn is not the biggest pressing issue for Iowa corn producers.
“You know our biggest challenge that’s facing us now are the prices,” Zylstra said. “We’ve seen a little bit of a rebound … but it’s just been a challenge.”
Despite concerns over market volatility, Zylstra said that in the long-term, corn producers have to be optimistic.
“The demand (for corn) continues to grow in the world and the overall outlook is positive … it’s a good time to be in agriculture.”
On the soybean side, Grant Kimberley, director of market development with the Iowa Soybean Association and executive director for the Iowa Biodiesel Board, said the soybean harvest this year has yielded good results.
“I think the soybean harvest has pretty much wrapped up,” he said. “The yields are decent, but we have heard of a lot of variability.”
Kimberley, who also farms with his family near Maxwell, said soybean production was higher this year, but many of the crops struggled because of the cooler summer and heavier rainfall amounts in the state, including sudden death syndrome and white mold issues.
“We’re probably averaging somewhere around 52 bushels an acre. It’s a good yield, but not a ‘knocks your socks off’ kind of yield.”
Prices for soybeans have also dipped compared to the last few years and that is a challenge, he said.
However, because there is a growing global market for soybeans, Iowa soybeans in particular, farmers are optimistic about the future, Kimberley said.
“I think Iowa has a good global reputation for having the best quality soybeans. Hopefully, we can build that demand globally,” he said.
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