Janesville76.2°

Fall harvest big but slow

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ANN MARIE AMES
October 29, 2007

The good news:


In some parts of Rock County, corn yields are way above average.


The bad news:


The harvest is behind schedule. It takes longer to cut through a field that has more kernels.


UW Extension agent Jim Stute said Rock County farmers have harvested 35 percent to 45 percent of the corn crop—less than normally would be picked this time of year.


And there still are some soybeans in the field, which is unusual this late in the fall, he said.


The lack of a killing frost has left bean stems green, making them harder to combine, Stute said.


Soybean fields are yielding about 50 bushels per acre, which is typical for Rock County. Corn is a different story.


“Overall, I think the county average is going to be above where it’s been the last couple years,” Stute said.


The UW Extension has corn test plots in parts of southeastern Rock County. The yields in the test plots have been running 200 to 240 bushels per acre, Stute said. That’s a jump above Rock County’s average of 154 bushels per acre.


And there’s one more bit of good news. A fairly dry October has let corn dry down to 15 percent moisture—exactly where it needs to be to keep through the winter.


“That’ll save a ton of fuel,” Stute said. “Drying costs are up because of gas prices. We got dinged a couple years ago when it was so wet. It’s a really good thing this year.”


Producer Kent Leach said things couldn’t get much better this fall.


Leach was finishing up a cornfield at Avalon and La Prairie Town Hall roads Sunday afternoon.


“You couldn’t ask for better,” he said about this fall’s harvest.


Leach grows 750 acres of corn and soybeans in La Prairie, Bradford and Janesville townships—more corn than beans, he said.


Sunday’s trip back and forth through the field was about the fourth for the season for Leach. First, last year’s soybeans had to be chopped and buried with a disk—a large piece of equipment with rows of steel disks that slice through the ground. Then the new corn was planted, sprayed for weeds and finally harvested.


Leach is trying to get away from the additional step of cultivating between planting and spraying. A cultivator works like a giant hoe, pulling weeds from between several rows at a time.


With corn being developed to resist herbicides, farmers can depend more on spraying and less on cultivating.


“Any time you can save a trip over a field, it’s a good thing,” Leach said.



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