Published on Oct 12, 2018 by Peter Isaacson
Photo credit: Iowa Soybean Association
This year has been a roller coaster year for many Midwest farmers: weather challenges, high inputs costs, trade discussions that affect commodity prices, and now a slow and soggy harvest to finish.
Peoples Company Land Managers have talked with many landowners this past week and many are curious how this delayed harvest is affecting the crops still in the field. For corn, damp conditions can trigger issues with field mold, increased toxicity levels, poor stalk quality, and lower test weight paired with lower grain quality making it less valuable at the elevator.
Soybeans are also susceptible to unfavorable characteristics generated by excessive rain fall. The worst-case scenario for soybeans would be pod germination, where the seeds in the pod begin to grow while the plant is still standing in the field. Wet soybeans in the field are also vulnerable to mold and discoloration, along with shatter loss from pod shrinkage in which the bean is lost entirely. Deteriorated grain can lead to drying and storage issues further increasing the cost of grain handling and storage.
In addition to degraded crops, harvesting in damp conditions has negative impacts on the soil. Running equipment over saturated soils significantly increases compaction, with the added risk of getting stuck and creating ruts that will need additional care during fall tillage. Also, every time a piece of equipment becomes stuck, time and labor in a time sensitive window is devoted to freeing the machine versus harvesting.
When profit margins are already slim for 2018, the added expense of a wet fall is unwelcome. While the current weather patterns are stressful for farmers, soon enough the weather will clear, and we will be greeted with the October sun and brisk mornings fueling the combine. In the meantime, the delay allows farmers the opportunity to take a closer look at harvest expenses, work on equipment, and begin planning for next year. The more prepared farmers are for the challenges they face today, the better they’ll be able to deal with the challenges of tomorrow.
Traces of White Mold and corn smut present in a Warren County, IA cornfield. Image taken October 10, 2018.