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Harvest looks good for local farmers

The fall harvest is definitely underway in Crawford County.

Area farmers took advantage of some nice weather recently to harvest soybeans, high moisture corn and more, according Crawford County Ag Agent Vance Haugen.

“The harvest is pretty much on time,” Haugen said. He noted it was slightly ahead of last year’s harvest, but behind the “super early” harvest of 2009.

The local ag agent estimated, as of late last week, about 60 to 70 percent of the county’s soybeans were harvested and about 10 to 15 percent of the corn was also harvested.

Chris Olson, at Olson’s Feed in Seneca, estimated the soybean crop in his area late last week was probably about 50 percent completed, having been delayed by the rain earlier in the week.

While the bean crop was generally in good shape, it may have been a little too dry prior to the recent rain and some farmers may have slightly reduced yields as a result. Haugen explained when soybeans get too dry the pods can shatter, when combined, leaving some beans in the field.

Both Haugen and Olson agreed the beans would take on moisture from the rain and the harvest yield would probably improve.

Crop farmer Daryl Aspenson, from Mt. Sterling, confirmed that some of the soybean pods were shattering in the early part of the harvest. However, he also agreed that the recent rain had helped the situation on the crop remaining to be harvested.

Aspenson said moisture was just 9.4 percent in the soybean crop before the rain and was 12.5 percent earlier this week.

Aspenson said they hoped to finish harvesting their 800 acres of soybeans by today, Thursday, Oct. 20. Aspensons will start harvesting corn as soon as the bean harvest is completed.

The Mt Sterling farmer noted that the bean harvest was “better than average” (54 bushels/acre) where there was good rain this summer. In areas that didn’t have the same rain, harvests were “less than average” (46 bushels/acre). Overall, Aspenson was favorably impressed with the soybean yield.

Like others, Aspenson is also pleased with the high price this year. Because he missed a huge increase in prices at harvest last year, Aspesnson decided to contract less of the crop this year—about 45 percent versus 60 to 70 percent last year. They didn’t want as much locked into contracts, if the prices took off again this year.

With moisture running 15-20 percent in the corn crop, corn harvested now will either be stored as high moisture corn in silos for feed or it will have to be dried. With propane costs about the same as last year, farmers face some decisions about drying the crop. While drying may raise the costs to the farmer, waiting for a drier crop can also have consequences.

“Corn is still a little wet,” according to Jesse Burkum, who was working at Burkum’s Milling last week. “Next week will be the week for corn. Right now people are harvesting high moisture corn.”

Burkum said the sunny windy weather was helping to dry the corn crop. He said under the right conditions corn moisture can drop a half of a percentage point per day.

Local farmers still recall the Halloween blizzard of 1992 that left a lot of corn unharvested, Haugen explained. This remains a motivating force for getting corn harvested sooner rather than later.

For the Aspensons, it’s full speed ahead. After they conclude the soybean harvest, they will begin to harvest 1,140 acres of corn. When Daryl checked the corn crop’s moisture content earlier in the week, it was 22 percent.

Aspensons have the propane on hand and will dry the corn to 15 percent before delivering it for sale. With the price of corn at around $6/bushel, Aspenson said he had no qualms about drying the corn because of the large profit available. The corn price was $5.86 per bushel last Friday. Some farmers have contracts for over $6 per bushel.

“In 40 years, this is the best year I’ve ever had,” the local farmer said. “We’ve got a good yield with good prices and dry corn.”

While the corn is not as dry as last year’s crop, which required no drying, it’s better than normal, according to Aspenson. He explained the crop was about three or four percent drier than the average.

Corn reacted better to the drier weather where it occurred. Aspensons are expecting about 175 bushels per acre down from last year’s 181 to 182. Daryl indicated the cobs aren’t the size of last year’s cobs. However, he said the yield was still very good for this part of the country.

Other crops also seemed to enjoy a good growing year.

The area hay crop was heavy this year and of very good quality, Haugen reported.

The apple crop was also strong.

Hillcrest Orchard’s Bob Johnson confirmed the apple harvest was “real good overall.” Johnson said some Macintosh apples were lost in the recent heavy winds, but there were plenty of apples on hand.

The Crawford County wheat crop, which continues to increase in size, was excellent, according to Haugen. He estimated there are currently 10,000 acres planted in wheat in the county with large plantings in the Eastman area.

“It was a good year for just about everything,” observed Jesse Burkum.