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Is it officially harvest season?

By Staff | Oct 18, 2019

- Farm News photo by Karen Schwaller THE SOYBEAN AND CORN HARVEST is just getting a good start in Northwest Iowa following seasonal rains late last week, which stopped combines that had only a few short days to work earlier in the week. Here, Scott Titterington, in the combine and Dylan Titterington work in one of Scott Titterington’s corn fields southeast of Milford in an effort to continue the harvesting process. The rains delayed harvest and brought soybean moisture numbers back up, and is not helping to dry the corn down.



Mother Nature has decided to begin cooperating, bringing drier conditions that have allowed producers to get back into the fields earlier this week.

Meaghan Anderson, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach field agronomist for central Iowa, said last Friday, she believes fields in her area could be a little shorter on rainfall compared to other regions of the state.

“But, when we get as much rain as we have gotten this fall, I don’t think it makes that big of a difference,” she said.

As of last week, Anderson said some producers were able to get back into the fields for a short time before the rain made a return.

“Some people that had dryers or some place to take the corn without a huge discount were harvesting corn to start with then everybody pretty well switched over to beans,” she said. “The beans were cutting pretty good, but the corn was still pretty high in moisture, so that is the tough part. Some of the seed corn got mudded out here in my area as well.”

Moisture readings in corn, Anderson said, ranged from the lows in the high teens and they only went up from there.

“I have heard corn coming out of the field at the lowest is 19.5 or 19.8 and then the higher stuff was getting up into the mid-20s which is pretty high, so there is some drying that is definitely going to have to happen,” she said. “That’s a little wetter than what people would like to be taking things out, but if they have the dryer it makes it a little easier to do.”

What is it going to take to get the corn to dry down in the field?

“It’s going to be slow. Having this freeze, it’s definitely going to slow things down and 50-degree highs and 30-degree lows are not going to be good for any field drying by any means,” she said. “And, for the rain for that matter, it’s not just drying of the crop, but the drying of the soil to let people get back into the fields. It’s the fact it is going to take a while to dry back out.”

Driving along the countryside it is evident those crops that had not matured were killed due to the freeze over the weekend.

“There is going to be a small percentage of the crop that is not at maturity at this point, and the hard freeze cut off the last yield gaining opportunity for it,” she said.

Anderson said there haven’t been any real issues so far, but standability among other problems could become something to keep an eye on in the very near future.

“If we see more rainfall coming through it is not going to be good for standability, it’s not going to be good for ear rots and some of the insect eating that we saw that has opened up some of the ears for mold,” she said.

All of these are concerns, especially if there is a high wind event.

“When there is a field with stalk rot or mold rot, things are going to be highly susceptible for going down and at this point, there is nothing anybody can do about it. That is the worst part,” she said.

So far, Anderson said, yields have “been really pretty good.”

“Beans have been kind of average in the upper 50s to low to mid 60s, so I am sure there are some people getting really high yields, but I haven’t heard of anything too amazing, but nothing too bad so far anyway,” she said. “I think people have been pleasantly surprised with corn, there have been some pretty good corn yields.”

Anderson said they have been receiving calls with producers inquiring if they should leave their replant acres to hopefully mature and dry down on their own, or harvest them with the rest of the field.

“The consensus is to leave the replants out there as long as you can,” she said. “Do not harvest it with the rest of the field that’s mature if you can avoid it because of the fact it’s going to be lighter, it’s going to be wetter, it’s going to take a lot longer to dry down than the stuff that is mature, so it is going to have storability issues. Harvesting that separately is going to be a much better deal for you, and it makes it better for the grain elevator to handle rather than having it speckled throughout the grain bins.”

Northwest Iowa

According to Paul Kassel ISU Extension field agronomist in northwest Iowa, soybean harvest has begun with some producers getting started during the last few days of September. That harvesting opportunity was short lived due to rain, however.

“The late April and early May planted corn reached black layer in mid-September. Some of that corn has now reached 20 percent grain moisture,” he said. “The early June planted corn is still at the 3/4 milk line stage of development and it is expected to reach black layer by last weekend. That corn is about 35 percent moisture currently. The concern with the June planted corn is the field dry down and drying costs. The odds of receiving good field dry down weather in late October are not good.”

Kassel said the drying costs of 200 bushel per acre of corn is about $7.50 per acre per point.

“Therefore, if the June planted corn does not field dry below 25 percent, drying costs could be around $75 per acre,” he said. “The good news is that the June planted corn looks good and is expected to produce a good yield. Time will tell just how good that yield might be.”

North Central Iowa

North Central Iowa’s ISU field agronomist Angie Rieck-Hinz said harvest has been going on in her area on and off for about a month now.

“Harvest began late in the week of Sept. 16 along the Highway 20 corridor and has progressed very little with all the rain that fell the past two weeks. Estimates of 2-5 percent of the beans are harvested in some areas with yields averaging around 60 bushels per acre. Corn harvest is very localized with minimal acres harvested so far,” she said.

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