Months of Wonky Weather Could Delay Harvest

Posted on October 11th, 2017

Soybeans awaited harvest in this White County field in early October. (Annie Ropeik/IPB News)

Soybeans awaited harvest in this White County field in early October. (Annie Ropeik/IPB News)

Indiana is partway into a record-setting cash crop harvest – but months of uneven weather conditions have put some farmers behind.

The state’s soybean crop is 42 percent harvested as of this week, about the same as average. But the corn crop lags at just 24 percent.

Purdue University agronomist Bob Nielsen says wet weather earlier this year forced some farmers to plant late or replant their crops, and cool August temperatures lengthened the growing season.

“We obviously need good weather for the next 30 or 45 days to get both crops out,” Nielsen says. “Farmers will focus on soybeans in the near-term, because it’s a little more critical to get them out before they start shattering and dropping grain on the ground.”

He says corn can wait a longer – into early November. Farmers need it to dry before harvest, which requires warm, sunny, dry weather. And Nielsen says it can cost extra to store or dry grain that’s picked early.

But most farmers will prefer to harvest before fall weather turns stormy, he says, “as opposed to the risk of leaving it stand in the field and be subject to the winds of Mother Nature, and possibly being blown over or knocked down or simply deteriorate in quality.”

Hoosier grains were worth $7.2 billion in the last federal farm census, in 2012 – putting Indiana sixth in the nation.

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