There are two choices of combine color this harvest season — corn chocolate or bean brown. The dust flying off the fields masks the combine itself along the Missouri River bottoms. Still, farmers such as Tim Engemann will take a dry harvest this year over the events of last year.
“The dust is just a pain,” the Hermann, Mo., farmer says, “but at least it isn’t a flood.”
The flood of 2019 resulted in many prevented plant acres in this part of the state. “So, we’re just happy we have a crop,” Engemann adds.
And while 2020 was not even close to last year, it was wet during spring corn planting. “Our corn was planted really late,” Engemann says. Delayed planting means delayed harvest.
Corn comes out
It is mid-October, and Engemann is about to wrap corn harvest. Typically, he would be done combining corn in September and switching to soybeans. Still, he is not complaining. “It could be worse.”
His corn yields are ranging from 180 to 220 bushels per acre, with moisture hovering about 18%. So Engemann presses on, harvest dust and all.
Across Missouri, corn farmers were at the halfway point in harvest last week, still behind the five-year average of 66%. However, most of the state’s crop condition is in the good-to-excellent range.
Soybeans make progress
When it comes to soybeans, the state is only a quarter of the way through harvest. And farmers still are dealing with dry conditions.
Only a few miles down Missouri State Highway 94, Harold Gloe is in a cloud of soybean dust.
He is on a field just outside of Rhineland that was empty last year because of flood seep water. He battled water on farm fields well into June 2019.
“This whole area was covered with water,” he says. “We were not able to get a corn crop on it.” So, harvesting soybeans in dry conditions is a blessing this year.
However, Gloe says some of his soybeans on other farms still are a little green because of delayed planting from wet conditions this spring. But the field he is in is ready to harvest.
With dry weather on the horizon, farmers are likely to make up for lost time. They may just need to wash off the combine at the end of each day.
Click through the photo gallery to see images of corn and soybean harvest in east-central Missouri.