After weeks of harvest going nowhere because of the relentless wet weather, Mother Nature has finally cut us a break and harvest is getting its feet moving again.
In far southwestern Kansas, combines are moving furiously through fields at lightning speed. Cory Kinsley, vice president of risk management for Conestoga Energy in Liberal, Kansas, says harvest likely will be done by about the middle of next week. Even better, yields, quality and moisture have all been great.
Others in our area, though, have been less fortunate and are still waiting for fields to dry down. After weeks of constant rain, fog and drizzle, the soil may still be too wet to support heavy machinery. Some fields are still flooded and won’t be drying out any time soon. It likely won’t be until much later this winter that those fields get harvested – if ever. Some portions of fields may ultimately be abandoned if they’re still too wet in the weeks ahead.
Field losses in wet fields are also mounting from lodging. As corn and milo stalks soften and break over in the wind due to the excessive moisture, more bushels inevitably end up on the ground instead of in the combine. That means more field losses long term if harvest drags out any longer.
For those in our area who haven’t harvested yet or are only just getting started, that puts them in a pretty tight spot - especially if they have a mold infestation in their field. If their corn or milo has mold, agronomists at Kansas State University say the problem may spread as long as the crop remains standing in the field. They advise that the crop be harvested as soon as possible.
Those most at risk of further delays are those who had to plant late because of the wet spring they endured earlier this year. In the event you’re a farmer who couldn’t get in the field to plant on time, chances are that your moisture is still pretty high and above the 14-15% range that elevators, feedlots and ethanol plants desire. That will require still more days of drying down in the field.
Fortunately, Mother Nature has more warm and dry weather in store through most of the week - if the forecast holds. If not, we’ll end up with even more bushels on the ground after this harvest is finally wrapped up. And with profit margins razor thin, we need every bushel we can get!