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November 29, 2023
We all set goals each year. Goals on when we would like to have our crops planted, when we would like to start an improvement project around the house or farm, and when we would like harvest to be done.
Our goal for harvest each year is to be finished, or very close to finished, by Thanksgiving. When planting season started in April this year, I figured we were off to a good start to reach our harvest deadline by Thanksgiving. Little did I know that just a few weeks later, Mother Nature was going to change that for us.
I’m sure many other farmers also experienced the dry weather in late May and early June. Our corn crop, most of which was planted in the later parts of May, sat in a dry seedbed waiting on moisture for about three weeks.
On June 12, we finally got a little bit of rain, and over the course of the next week, our corn finally emerged out of the ground. Emergence looked rough and inconsistent. Then there were the days and days of haze and smoke from those Canadian wildfires. I didn’t have a whole lot of hope for our crop, but soon the growing season turned around, and it didn’t look half bad.
Soybean harvest was timely, and yields were running above average until we got to the ones that were planted last. Those acres were below average, but our overall yield wasn’t too bad.
The past few years, we have quit switching back and forth between combining soybeans and corn, and instead focus on harvesting all the beans while planting cover crops on our acres. This lets our corn dry in the field a little more, cutting back on drying costs. This also makes everything more efficient at harvest so we can maximize acres harvested per day with the help we have available, since we are not waiting on the grain dryer.
This year has been a little different. Corn harvest started about two weeks after the beans were finished. The husks were brown on the ear, but the stalks were still very green, even after several frosts.
After moisture-testing a few of the earlier-planted fields, we decided to start at the farm that was planted first. I soon found out the moisture tester was off by a little. The corn was probably four points higher in moisture than I thought, and we were harvesting 30% corn! This might not be a big deal to some, but on our farm it is.
Our dryer is not a fan of corn that is wet, and it took nearly three days to dry the 30 acres of corn we harvested. The yield was very good, but I soon realized this wasn’t going to work. Our propane cost to dry corn at 30% was way too high, and Sheilah informed me that I needed to go find something else to do before we turned all our profits over to the propane company.
I talked with a few other farmers who were experiencing wet corn, too. Our grain dryer guy even said that it sounded like we were starting harvest three weeks too soon.
It has been hard to sit around and not harvest while the weather has been nice, but some much-needed projects did get completed around the house and farm during this time. One of those included a new water line to our barn.
We finally harvested a few acres that didn’t have the best access when wet and muddy, and the moisture dropped about five points.
Unfortunately, most of the corn was not harvested until after Thanksgiving. So, the lesson for 2023 was patience. Be patient for the rains, to make the crop grow, and be patient for the time for the crop to be ready.
Good luck in 2024!
The Reskovacs and their sons farm near Uniontown, Pa. Check out all of their "Two Hearts, One Harvest" blogs.
Mike and Sheilah Reskovac are a young farming couple just starting their second year of marriage and farming together, near Uniontown, Pa. He's a first-gen farmer who met his fourth-gen farmer-bride online, and married in November 2012.
Mike grew up next to and working on his neighbor's Fayette County dairy farm through high school and college. After graduating from Penn State University in 2002 with a B.S. in Ag Systems Management, he worked as a manager at Tractor Supply stores for three years.
In 2005, he began farming his neighbor's land. Today, he and Sheilah farm 900 acres of corn and soybeans, plus do custom planting and harvesting.
Mike is president of the Pennsylvania Corn Growers Association. He also serves on the local Penn State Extension Board and is a Farm Service Agency county committee member.
Sheilah grew up on her family's Indiana County dairy farm. She graduated from DuBois Business College in 2008 with an associate's degree in Specialized Business and Medical Assistance, then worked for DuBois Regional Medical Center for four years. She also volunteered as a firefighter and EMT for the local fire company.
Since moving to Fayette County, Sheilah has been chief bookkeeper and farm assistant, along with taking classes at Penn State Fayette for Nursing. She enjoys “taking care of” groundhog problems, raking hay and mowing cornstalks.
While she enjoys cooking and baking, Mike enjoys eating the goods. Both enjoy hunting, attending concerts and county fairs, and spending time with family.
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