Harvest still in early stages, but progress being made

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WOOSTER, Ohio — A few warm, dry days last week gave grain farmers in Ohio and western Pennsylvania the chance to begin harvesting soybeans, as well as some corn.

The combines were rolling in many places by midweek, ahead of weekend rain showers and a dramatic shift in temperatures, that saw some areas experience their first frost warning of the season.

According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, about 21 percent of Ohio soybeans were harvested as of Oct. 5, compared to the five-year average of 23 percent. In Pennsylvania, about 12 percent were harvested, compared to the five-year average of 14 percent.

Getting started

John and Bill Redick, of JCB Redick Farms, took advantage of a mild day Oct. 2 to harvest a field of beans on the west side of Wooster. Bill Redick, who ran the combine, kept a close eye on the moisture monitor, but at about 14 percent moisture, the beans were ready to come off.

“We’re really happy with them,” he said. “They’re yielding really well for us. They’ve dried down and they’re going through the combine really good.”

The monitor showed a favorable yield of about 70 bushels per acre.

The yield would probably have been even higher, said John Redick, if the growing season had been more balanced.

Farmers in northcentral Ohio saw a wet spring and summer, followed by a dry period in mid to late summer.

“We needed a soaking rain in August and didn’t get it,” John said.

The Redicks were closing in on about 200 acres of beans harvested when Farm and Dairy spoke to them, and had about 600 more acres to run.

Other places

About two hours southwest of Wooster, farmers in Clark County are roughly 20 percent done with beans, said Clark County farmer Allen Armstrong.

On his own farm, he’s about 15 percent done with beans and just recently started harvesting some corn. If his early beans are an indicator, he expects his yields will be two to three bushels above his trendline yields.

The bad news for grain farmers, even amid good yields, is that corn and soybean prices are down significantly. Corn is selling for below $3 a bushel, and soybeans are now below $10 locally, much lower than the past three or four years.

Armstrong, who is also secretary of the Ohio Soybean Association, said farmers knew prices would eventually come down, but said the adjustment still hurts.

“We knew this was going to come some day, but even though we knew it was going to come, we still weren’t ready for it,” he said.

Cool and wet

The harvest will likely be slow this week, as the National Weather Service predicts a chance of rain most days through the end of the week, across most of the Farm and Dairy readership area.

But the rain is good news for farmers with crops still maturing, and for those who are in the process of planting winter wheat.

In Ohio, about 33 percent of winter wheat is planted, accorindg to NASS, and about 48 percent is planted in Pennsylvania.

The rain will especially be welcome in Pennsylvania, where farmers saw a dry September that had most places experiencing 1-2 inches less than normal, according to Assistant State Climatologist Kyle Imhoff, in an article he wrote for Penn State Field Crop News.

Pennsylvania, like Ohio, will see a few nighttime lows dip into the 30s, with a risk of an early frost. But Imhoff said cloud cover would likely hamper any widespread frost events.

An early frost could be disastrous for some farmers, who were forced to plant late because of the late spring, and for those who planted a second crop after this year’s late wheat harvest.

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Chris Kick served Farm and Dairy's readership as a reporter for nearly a decade before accepting a job at Iowa State University Extension. An American FFA Degree recipient, he holds a bachelor’s in creative writing from Ashland University.

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