Weather doing a number on fall harvests
Weather has continued to wreak havoc on the local 2019 corn harvest.
It also has left its mark on the sugar beets.
“A lot of (farmers) are saying it’s a year to forget,” said Rob Baar of Stratton Equity Co-op in Kirk.
“It’s been a tough year,” said Dalton Hinde with CHS/M & M Co-op in Yuma.
Hail was widespread enough through the summer to make a noticeable impact on the yields now coming out of the cornfields.
Then came a hard freeze earlier in October that did a number on sugar beets.
Then came extremely high winds October 20-21 that reportedly has caused significant loss in the corn fields.
The snow falling this week also could cause problems with the standing corn still in the fields if it became wet and heavy enough to knock over plants, though the hope was that the moisture mostly would be just beneficial.
It definitely has been a help to the winter wheat planted earlier this fall.
“It will really help the wheat,” local agronomist Davin Doyle said of the snow. “It was getting very concerning with how dry the wheat was getting.”
The region’s corn was dealt a severely strong blow from the high sustained winds that rocked the area for two days early last week.
“It was very difficult on the corn,” local agronomist Merlin VanDeraa said, “but it could have been worse.”
He estimated about 20 percent of the local areas had significant damage, ranging from 20 to 40 percent ear drop loss. He said from what he knows, probably about 30 to 40 percent locally suffered less damage, around 10 to 20 percent ear loss.
Doyle noted that when the ears fall off the plant to the ground, they cannot be picked up. He said it is almost better if the plants went over with the ears attached because they still can be harvested. Hinde said some farmers are struggling to even get 200 bushels per acre after the wind.
Gary Newton has Yuma County Grain in operation again. He said he estimates, based on the reports he has heard of the amount of ears on the ground, that within a 30-mile radius of Yuma 11 million bushels of corn was lost to the winds. It was not just around here, either, as he said he spoke with a farmer from Colby, Kansas, who estimated there was 100 bushel per acre on the ground in that area.
“It’s a super bad deal for the farmer,” Newton said.
The harvest in the Yuma area is approximately 60-percent done, but it will be delayed several days if the snow falls as heavily as forecast, Tuesday through Wednesday.
And there also is a significant wind chill advisory for Thursday morning, with the wind chill dropping as low as 15 to 20 degrees below zero.
Baar said about 90 percent of the corn harvest is completed in the southern portion of the county. He said it seems the wind damage was not as bad as in the Yuma area. Yields have been all over the place, he said, with some fields producing around 230 to 240 bushel per acre, with some around 160 and even other fields as 80 thanks to all the weather issues. Baar said dryland corn in that area has ranged from some fields producing around 100 bushel to some as low as 20 to 40 bushel.
Hinde with CHS said irrigated fields are producing on average 20 to 30 bushel less than last year, but a lot of the dryland corn is around 20 bushel better.
Nick Leiding with West Plains said there definitely has been worry from producers about the amount of damage done by the wind and hail. However, he said it has gone well so far, with the corn averaging on the dry side and surprisingly good test weights.
it was the hard freeze in mid-October that was the sugar beets’ worst enemy.
Luke Whitehill of Western Sugar said it was not a killing frost, but the top of the beets had to be scalped. That resulted in the tonnage decreasing, as well as the sugar content going down about 1 percent. Still, the sugar content is around 16 percent, which still falls in the average category.
All but 220 acres were harvested prior to this week’s snow storm moving in.
Whitehill said growers worked really long hours to get done before the storm.
As for the beets still in the ground, he said they will be moved quickly to the factory after being harvested.