SALEM, Ohio — The frustration among farmers continues to grow as the harvest of 2009 remains behind schedule.
Although the soybean harvest is nearly complete, the same can not be said about corn.
Wet field conditions and wet corn are the two culprits giving farmers the most problems at this point. The good thing is that no farmer should feel alone, as weather appears to be plaguing many across the U.S.
Different regions reports
USDA’s Crop Progress report Nov. 9 indicated that 37 percent of the corn crop has been harvested, compared to the 82 percent average for the past five years.
According to the crop progress report, North Dakota has only 3 percent of its crop harvested, but it is running behind on maturity. Nebraska is 30 percent harvested and Iowa is 34 percent complete. Illinois is 31 percent, but Indiana and Ohio are between 37 and 41 percent complete from only 44 percent.
Soybean harvest, nationally, advanced to 75 percent complete this week, compared to the five year average of 92 percent.
In Ohio specifically, 99 percent of the corn crop is reported mature and 37 percent has been harvested so far. However, that is way behind from last year’s 81 percent at this time.
Wheat planting has made great strides across the buckeye state with 92 percent complete.
Across the stateline in Pennsylvania, 96 percent of the corn crop is mature and 51 percent has been harvested compared to last year’s 78 percent. In addition, 57 percent of the soybeans have been which is behind last year’s 71 percent. The wheat planting has also caught up to being 88 percent complete.
Long way to go
Deerfield Farms is reporting the soybean harvest is almost complete, but corn is just getting started.
Bill Wallbrown, co-owner of Deerfield Farms Service, estimates only 15 percent of the corn crop in northeast Ohio and northwestern Pennsylvania has been picked.
Wallbrown said there are two challenges facing farmers: High moisture content in corn is creating a bigger drying expense, and wet ground conditions.
“I think we are better off as a whole than out West. I’m hearing reports of corn coming in at above 26 percent moisture out there,” Wallbrown said. “Normally, we struggle here in northeast Ohio and northwest Pennsylvania, but we are doing better this year.”
Wallbrown did comment that the yields many farmers are seeing are better than average.
Jury still out
Ralph Wince, grain merchandiser for Agland Co-op, agreed that the soybean harvest has come along way in the past couple of weeks. However, he estimates only 10 percent of the corn crop has been picked in the area so far.
Wince said he is confident the weather forecast holds good things and farmers will be able to get into the fields and get the corn off, even though it will still contain a high moisture rate.
The jury is still out as to corn yields.
“We are hearing some good ones and some not-so-good ones, but it is still too early to tell; not enough has been harvested yet,” Wince said.
Wince guessed, from what farmers have been selling, that soybeans averaged 50 bushel to the acre. F.C. Stone, a national hedging company, put the national average at 44 bushels to the acre.
Currently, the area is averaging 145 bushel to the acre in corn and the national average is 164 bushels, although Wince was quick to caution it’s still early.
“That may be too low of an estimate until we really get going on the corn harvest,” Wince said.
Slow corn harvest
Joe Needham, vice president of the grain division of The Anderson’s near Toledo, agrees the corn harvest is lagging in this region, and it is still too early to know how this year’s harvest will be.
He said early indications show a good yield — better than last year’s. However, the high moisture in the corn has many worried about molds growing in corn creating toxins, which is causing concerns about using the grain for animal feed.
Another problem some farmers are having is that they are drying the corn and it is falling apart as it is being dried.
“Some are starting to show concern about the storability of corn through next summer — the quality is the issue,” Needham said.
He also estimates the corn harvest will not be completed until closer to Christmas instead of Thanksgiving this year.
“If we get it all harvested — that’s a big if — we will be able to minimize losses,” Needham said.
Harvest costs are rising because it is taking even longer to dry corn than in other years.
“What it took a farmer to dry corn with 15 or 16 percent moisture rating last year is taking the same farmer three times as long with a moisture rating of 25 percent,” Needham said.
He said farmers are also getting frustrated because some grain elevators are being forced to shut down so they can get caught up on drying. He said he has heard reports of some being open for two or three days and then closing for a day just to catch up on the drying.
“Farmers just want to do what they are good at, getting the crop out of the ground,” Needham said.
Fewer wheat acres?
The weather this fall may also impact next year’s wheat crop.
Needham predicts there are fewer acres of wheat in the ground this year than other years.
“The conditions just weren’t right,” Needham said.
Putnam County. Glen Arnold, Ohio State University Extension Educator in Putnam County, agreed the wheat crop could be a problem.
He said there are worries across the state that late planting could be a problem because the plants have not been able to establish themselves before severe weather hits.