Suppose you're back in the field harvesting today, October 23. You've got a long way to go, with soybeans and corn. The corn is still at high moisture, and ear molds and stalk rots are ramping up. Soils are anywhere from saturated to still too wet for tillage. What will you do differently since it's Oct 23 and not Sept 23?
That question was posed to farmers recently. Here are a few suggestions.
- Consider combining soybeans at higher moisture than you normally would, say 15 to 16%, and putting them in a bin with air. Dry them with air before moving them to another bin or selling them. Requirement would be a bin with sufficient air. The drawback might be having an empty bin that you can spare if you're wanting to harvest corn at the same time.
- Start corn harvest at higher moistures than normal. Most of you have likely already accepted this notion. Losses for letting corn set in the field can mount quickly, especially since ear molds and stalk rot reports are mounting in various parts of the state.
- Be careful where you run grain carts. If you've got a 1,000 bushel grain cart, it's a lot of weight on perhaps one axle. That weight can create soil compaction deep within the soil. You'll have to weight the benefits of unloading on the go to speed up harvest vs. creating soil compaction that could affect crops for the next two years, maybe longer. It's well documented that winter feeze-and-thaw cycles, despite the common perception, will not remove the effects of soil compaction in one year, if at all.
- Rethink normal tillage plans. Even chiseling wet fields and relying on freeze and thaw could be a costly error. As noted, the potential helpful benefits of freeze and thaw are highly overrated, according to Gary Steinhardt, a Purdue University Extension soils specialist. At some point, he notes, it may come down to harvesting anyway to get the crop out, as a cost of doing business, but tilling and creating compaction just to get a field tilled may be a different proposition. Is that a cost of doing business that you absolutely must incur?
- Take frequent harvest breaks. No doubt you're going to work longer hours than if you could have started harvest earlier. But make rest breaks and stops for water or a snack more frequent. Some groups, like the West Central Young Farmers in Greene County, prepare snack packs, and call them safety packs. If you deliver grain to the Gavilon Peavey elevator in Sullivan County, odds are you'll be invited to take one of these packs. The whole idea is to help you relax and stay refreshed so the odds of accidents diminish.