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Rain hampers harvest efforts

GTNS photo by David HotleWashington County farmers harvested corn Thursday while they could before rains further dampened the soil around their crops.
GTNS photo by David HotleWashington County farmers harvested corn Thursday while they could before rains further dampened the soil around their crops.

WASHINGTON — Moisture in the soil in Washington County is quickly becoming a double-edged sword as area farmers are battling Mother Nature for a few dry days to harvest their corn from the saturated ground.

Iowa State University Extension field specialist Josh Michel said harvest had been going well before the rain really started. He feels, with rain predicted during the coming week, the harvest will be put on hold. He said there have been many farmers in the fields over the previous week trying to get as much out of the ground as they could before the wet weather moves through the area.

“The current USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) estimates are 15 to 20 percent corn and 10 to 15 percent soybeans have been harvested,” Michel said. “I think the further south you go, the better they are doing. They haven’t been getting as much rain so farmers are able to stay in the fields a little bit longer.”

In Northern Iowa, Michel said it may be several weeks until farmers are able to harvest their full crop.

Michel said the longer harvest is delayed, the more that grain quality can decrease. He stressed much depends on the moisture levels but as a general rule the longer crops remain in the ground, the lower the quality. He explained additional moisture causes concerns with molds and funguses. Right now, while the moisture exists, lower temperatures are keeping mold and fungus at bay. Michel is concerned if the weather warms up there could be concerns, including stalk rots.

While mid-October is usually when soybeans are harvested, Michel said this year is the exception, particularly from Highway 34 north to I-80. He explained the counties in that area received timely amounts of rain and have had a great growing season.

For most of Iowa, with the exception being the north side of the state, most fields are far ahead as far as growing season is concerned. He said throughout Iowa crops were about three weeks ahead of predicted averages.

The price of grain is down, Michel commented.

In Washington County, Michel believes there have been plenty of timely rains throughout the growing season and much less stress on the crops. He believes the county would have typical yields.

“I don’t think there will be any surprises out there,” he said.