Weekly crop reports issued by the Indiana office of ag statistics continue to show progress in harvest of both corn and soybeans vs. the five-year average. Several factors are probably playing into an early harvest, including stressed crops that dried down early in southern Indiana, plenty of heat and dry weather statewide, and the natural tendency of most modern hybrids to dry down more quickly than their counterparts of previous years.
One central Indiana farmer who farms roughly 2,000 acres harvested his last acre of crop Oct. 10. His crops weren't bin-busters, but they weren't disasters, either. He simple found good working conditions and kept moving through harvest.
Even in northwest Indiana, one farmer who raises 3,500 acres, mostly corn, hopes to finish up this week. His secret is keeping his large combine moving. He dumps into a grain cart on-the-go, and deals with a trucking firm that keeps trucks at his disposal all day long. Since its been a dry fall, running the full cart over soils hasn't been a major issue. One cart can usually fill a semi, leaving it ready to go to town.
He concentrates on keeping his machine moving, and averages 150 to 160 acres per day of 200-bushel per acre corn, as long as he's in large fields. Not drying grain or working with truck drivers simplifies his task. "My grain handling system is my cell phone," he quips. He simply coordinates with truckers, and tells them where they need to position trucks. The person driving the grain cart is a part-time employee. He doesn't employ any full-time help. He's chosen to invest his dollars in large equipment to get the job done quickly, rather than employees, grain bins, dryers and trucks. All of his grain goes directly to one elevator, creating good working relations. He buoys price by forward pricing a large percentage of his grain each year, when prices are often more favorable than at harvest.
Some areas of northern Indiana are just getting well underway with harvest. The shift n weather patterns that brought rain, sometimes too much, back to the northern half of Indiana in august helped soybeans immensely, but it also slowed down the maturity process, compared to the super-fast , way too-fast maturity pattern of southern Indian, where precious little rain fell in august, but which records temperatures averaging six degrees above normal for the month across entire cropping districts. Any weatherman or ag climatologist will tell you that a six-degree deviation is major.
Plus, the last day of the year to reach 90-degrees this year, at least at Indianapolis, August 8, will go down in the recordbooks as the latest date a 90-plus reading was ever recorded. The previous record was October 4. The first 10 days of October averaged 15 degrees above normal in central Indiana!
All that heat, plus minimal rainfall, explains why harvest is on a fast track.