|Farmers gearing up for fall harvest|
|Written by Chris Lee|
Football is here, the weather is cooling off and harvest is gearing up for many of the area crops—if they haven’t already. It must be fall!
Sugar beet trucks have been rolling through town during the past few weeks, beans are being dropped off at Jack’s Bean in Holyoke and farmers are itching to get into the corn fields to begin harvesting the annual golden crop.
With unusually dry and warm conditions this summer, harvest for many of the local crops has been jumbled up a bit.
With fall temperatures filling the air, corn harvest is nearly here.
Area dryland corn took a beating this summer with extreme heat and little moisture. Grainland Co-op grain merchandiser Steve Young said the dryland was hit hard and a lot of farmers opted to chop it early. Those who are harvesting are finding it wasn’t a good crop at all.
On the irrigated side of things, it should look pretty good this year. Young said he isn’t sure how to compare this year’s crop to last year’s, not having seen any numbers yet as it is still early. He does think it may be down a little from last year but can’t say for sure. “Once we get into it, we’ll have a lot better idea,” he noted.
Irrigated harvest hasn’t really taken off yet. Young said Monday that he expects things to pick up within the next 10 days to two weeks.
What has come in has been corn that was a little drier due to receiving a summer hail.
Normally, the big push on irrigated harvest would come around the 15th of October. So things are roughly three weeks ahead of a normal schedule.
A summer hail storm did sweep through the area and damaged some of the corn crop. Those fields that got hit the hardest most likely won’t see any production. In fact, some of the farmers chopped it down or disked it under.
Some of the fields bordering the hardest hit areas were weakened enough that farmers are being forced to pick high-moisture corn for feedlots before the ear falls to the ground.
Young said as of Monday, Sept. 17, millet harvest was roughly 90 percent completed. He noted it wasn’t a very good crop this year.
Grainland will probably handle 30-35 percent of what they have the last couple of years. The poorer crop can be attributed to lack of moisture.
Many farmers are in the throes of bean harvest. Above, pinto beans are being swathed on the Mike and Don Lininger Farm southeast of Holyoke Monday, Sept. 17.
Jerry Haynes of Jack’s Bean said Monday, Sept. 17 they were about 40 percent done with bean harvest. The first beans started rolling in around the third week of August.
Farmers usually try to cut and swath the beans when there is a little dew outside. With the extremely dry weather the area has seen, that task became a bit tricky this year. Haynes said harvest picked up some last week but was slowed as the area received rain Wednesday, Sept. 12. Farmers got back out last weekend, he said.
Haynes said the heat has delayed the maturity of the beans. He noted the later beans are showing good quality with average yields. Some of the bean fields in the area look patchy where some spots are drying out, while other spots within the same field are still green.
Haynes said there are probably three weeks left of harvest as there are still some beans being watered.
Haynes said popcorn harvest should begin within the next two or three weeks, depending on weather. He said some recent samples look very promising.
He noted the area didn’t receive as much hail as last year and anyone that was able to keep water on the popcorn should see a good crop.
Sugar beets began rolling through Holyoke a week and a half ago with the season’s first crop of sugar beets being harvested during the early harvest. Harvest is expected to gear up again Tuesday, Oct. 9.
The area’s early sugar beet harvest was scheduled to come to a close Wednesday morning this week.
Les Watada of Western Sugar said so far the quality of the crop is looking good. He said some farmers are up on tonage while others are down a bit.
Watada said they were planning to wind down the early harvest either Tuesday evening or early Wednesday. As of Monday, Sept. 17, harvest was scheduled to kick off again Tuesday, Oct. 9.
With farming almost always a gamble of sorts, some farmers have begun to drill their winter wheat crop, hoping moisture will come to help it get started.
Young said some farmers have already been in the fields, while others may wait until the end of this week or even next week to begin. He said everyone is caught in a quandary as to whether to drill now and hope for rain or wait it out and drill when the ground receives some moisture.
No matter the crop, this has been a different year for farmers. With fall officially beginning Saturday, Sept. 22, it won’t be long before the area is really humming with harvest activity.
Holyoke Enterprise September 20, 2012