While early fall is usually one of the busiest times of year for area farmers, continual rain throughout the last few weeks has put growers behind the eight ball when it comes to harvest this year.
“Typically we would be harvesting for the past three weeks straight,” Scott Wagner, fifth-generation area farmer, said. “We’ve only harvested like two-and-a-half days – so it’s made a difference.”
Not only has large amounts of rain put growers behind schedule when it comes to harvesting, it can also negatively impact the crops themselves.
“Both corn and beans have some different challenges,” Nebraska Extension Educator Aaron Nygren said.
When it comes to the excessive rain’s effect on corn harvest – both Nygren and Wagner pointed to stalk rot as a concern among growers trying to harvest their corn crops.
“You are concerned about standability and being able to get it into the (combine) head,” Wagner said. “You get stalk rot which just allows those stalks to kind of fall apart, or strong winds could come through and knock that corn down.”
According to Nygren, even corn growers who began harvest before precipitation hit the area hard over the past few weeks could have yields affected because of the delay.
“If guys started a field, got rained out, and then had to go back in – that can affect the yields in and of itself,” he said.
When it comes to soybeans – the moisture can lead to pods being broken open resulting in beans falling to the ground.
“With beans you are concerned about them shrinking and swelling all the time (due to the moisture) and popping out onto the ground,” Wagner said. “You’ll also get some stem rots happening in some of those soybean fields as well.”
Nygren concurred with Wagner – adding that a possible feeze this weekend could compound that issue.
“Those beans were dry and ready to harvest and now with all the rain they swell and crack the pods open and are shattering,” he said. “We’re probably going to have a decent frost this weekend and that certainly won’t help with that shattering.”
While all of the rain has certainly slowed down harvest, the delay may also cause other delays when growers finally do get their crops out of the ground and begin hauling to elevators.
“It’s just part of the challenge—another challenge is once things dry up the truck line-ups are just going to be horrendous,” Wagner said.
While all the rain has made this year’s harvest more of a challenge than usual, Wagner says its not anything he hasn’t dealt with before.
“We had these same challenges here about three years ago where at best you could get two or three hours a day of harvesting beans,” he said. “This is not our first rodeo, typically in years past you have a dry fall — but you can’t count on that.”
Nygren encouraged patience from area growers, citing a more favorable forecast throughout next week.
“The forecast looks good at least over the next week or so, so all you can do is just try and be patient,” he said.
While the forecast next week does call for clear sunny skies throughout next week, more precipitation could cause growers to start making tough decisions.
“Our fear is that we will start seeing people do some things that maybe they shouldn’t,” Nygren said.
If the rain keeps coming, Wagner says some growers may just go ahead and take their chances by harvesting muddy fields.
“What you will end up seeing is a lot of guys going out, and they are going to feel like they have to get what they can, so they will go out even in the mud,” he said. “That has affects for next year’s crop, next year’s yield — it’s just hard on the ground.”
All in all, Wagner says that while the rains have caused delays in harvesting this year it’s just part of being a farmer year in and year out.
“Wet weather this time of year affects a lot of businesses,” he said. “These are the challenges you deal with in farming — you can either embrace those challenges or find another job.”