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Farmers predicting a good yield from an early harvest

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
September 21, 2010
— Last year about this time, farmers nervously eyed crops that were weeks from maturity because of a cold summer. Then, they faced a wet October and a difficult harvest of moisture-laden corn and soybeans.

This year, they got a head start on planting because of an early spring, and hot days and timely rains followed. The combination resulted in early maturing crops—soybeans about two weeks ahead of schedule and corn up to a month ahead—and larger-than-average yields.


The moisture content in beans is already low enough so farmers can harvest without having to dry, which means less expense. The corn, too, is drying nicely.


Doug Kloepping, merchandiser in the grain division at the DeLong Co. in Clinton, said soybeans and corn are in “very good to excellent” condition.


“I would think you could probably do a survey of the farmers in this general area and think they would all agree. We were blessed this year with a very good crop,” he said.


Kloepping said preliminary reports show 60-plus bushels of beans per acre and 200-plus bushels an acre for corn—well over average. The farmers on rich prairie land are talking about 70-plus for soybeans. The average is about 160 bushels per acre for corn and 53 bushels for soybeans, said Jim Stute, Rock County’s soil and crop agent.


The past weekend’s rain will slow the harvest a bit, Stute said, but the outlook remains good.


“We’re way ahead of normal,” Stute said.


Crop development is two weeks to a month ahead, depending on location, he said.


Typically, the soybean harvest begins about Oct. 1, and the corn follows mid-month. Some farmers are already harvesting.


“We’re on pace for a very high yield,” possibly some of the best in recent memory, Stute said.


Crops benefited from an early spring, heat and rain at needed times.


“We had some dry spells, not too prolonged,” he said. “The crops didn’t really struggle the way they have in the past.”


Moisture in corn coming out of the fields ranges from 18 to 20 percent, Kloepping said. Corn is dried to about 15 percent in elevators.


If the weather holds and there isn’t a lot of rain, farmers will be able to take their time and let the corn dry more in the fields, Kloepping said.


“It’s definitely going to be a fast and early harvest, something we did not have last year.”


Moisture in corn last year ranged from 20 to 25 percent, Kloepping said, increasing drying costs for farmers.


Last year was a “tough year,” and farmers harvested corn that was high in moisture and low in test weight, he said. It was hard to store and hard to handle.


“I want to forget about it,” Kloepping said.


This year’s crop is “good and heavy and dry.”


“It’s going to be a lot easier to handle,” he said.


Gary Sommers farms near Clinton and plants beans, corn and some winter wheat.


“It looks like it’s going to be a really good crop,” Sommers said. “All indications are that it’s certainly going to be above average, possibly one of the better soybean crops I’ve ever had.”


The rains in July came just in time, with the ground holding the moisture to get the crops through the dry period.


Arch Morton Jr. is predicting “some really good yields” for his crops, although he doesn’t think he will set any records. His farm is southeast of Janesville in La Prairie Township.


Morton talked about the season’s early start and corn that was 6 feet tall in late June. Farmers in the stateline area got a bit nervous when the rains kept missing them in early July. But rain came at a critical time, just when the corn was making ears and the beans were podding.


“I think we came out of it pretty good,” Morton said.


The area also had plenty of heat.


“Last year was probably the worst year at not getting enough heat,” he said. “We’ll see some good yields, and it’s going to be a good fall and an earlier harvest.


“We probably will be done well before winter this year,” Morton said.


Farmers don’t want to see a lot of rain, wind or hail that will knock the crop down before it is harvested, he said.



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