Frequent rains slow fall harvest

It seems that rain has fallen here every three or four days. The corn is ready to harvest. Many soybeans are better than waist-high and the milo is coming on strong.

“It’s just awfully, awfully wet,” said Rickey Roberts, Marion County agricultural extension agent.

Some corn ready to cut, “but the rain keeps farmers doing a lot of work, so we’re getting further and further behind every day,” Roberts said. “The corn looks good—some of it looks great. I don’t know that all of it is great.

“Some of the earlier short-season corn got stressed out when it was drier before the rains started whereas the longer season varieties were able to take advantage of these rains.

“The early varieties were just stressed out for lack of water.”

But that doesn’t mean there’s any particular advantage to growing shorter-season or longer-season corn, Roberts said. It just means this year the advantage fell to the longer-season varieties.

With low commodity prices, farmers need those high yields to pay the bills, Roberts said. Many farmers just can’t afford to have poor crops.

With harvests to occur later in the fall, many farmers may get that chance with grain sorghum and soybeans.

“The soybeans and milo just look really, really tremendous out there,” Roberts said.

Take a look at the beans, he said, to see if the forming beans go all the way to the top of the plant to judge yields.

Roberts said he isn’t going to guess yields yet because nothing’s done until it’s in storage.

Most farmers are determined to protect those yields. They are hiring cop dusting airplanes to kill the large numbers of plant-eating insects that have emerged with the wet weather, Roberts said.

He, like most residents, hears the airplanes circling nearly every day of clear weather to apply insecticides to the crops.

And it’s not like the old days when rains kept farmers out of fields to cultivate the weed populations. Farmers have capitalized on newer varieties of Round-up-ready soybeans to kill unwanted plant varieties, he said.

Crop reporting services state very little corn harvest information is available compared to usual because it’s been so difficult for producers to get into the fields.

But Roberts said it does look like many farmers will have the crops they need to pay bills if the weather just turns dry for a while.