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Crops turning for harvest

A combine works in a soybean field on 220th Street near the intersection with 510th Avenue on Sept. 12. Rae Yost/Stevens County Times1 / 2
Sugar beet harvest in one of Bruce Solvie's fields near Morris on SEpt. 12. Rae Yost/Stevens County Times2 / 2

Farmers are busy as some harvest of sugar beets and other crops has started, and it's just going to get busier.

Curt Reese, a scientist in agronomy and social science with the West Central Research and Outreach Center in rural Morris, said on Wednesday, Sept. 12, that a farmer near Hancock was finished with soybean harvest and heard that a farmer north of Morris had started soybean harvest. Those fields had varieties of early maturing beans, Reese said. Reese expected to start on soybeans on Friday, Sept. 14, or early in next week.

"I'm thinking next week Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, probably midweek...," Reese said of his own farm's soybeans and any WCROC soybean harvest. But any field work depends on the weather.

Chuck Hennen, an agricultural science technician at the USDA North Central Conservation Research Soils Lab said on Sept. 11 he's also seen the pre-lifting of beets. Silage harvest also appeared to be nearly completed, Hennens said.

"It's going to be a busy time over the next six weeks, to the end of October," Hennen said.

The growing season's weather has caused some unusual maturing situations, Reese said. "Usually it's soybeans first, then corn," Reese said of harvest.

This fall, some farmers may be harvesting some corn before they complete the soybean harvest.

"If the fields are going down they might be able to harvest some corn fairly quickly," Reese said. "They need to see how well (corn) is standing and go from there."

"We've just had amazing maturity," Hennen said.. Harvest is "Coming on fast," Hennen said.

Meanwhile, corn and soybean prices are still low. As of Sept. 13, corn was about $3 per bushel depending on the delivery date, buyer and type of corn. Soybeans were about $7 per bushel depending on the delivery date and buyer.

"There may be an opportunity for farmers to cut drying costs," Hennen said. The moisture level of corn is low and should continue to drop. The lower the moisture level, the less need there is to dry corn in a bin which means less use of propane.

"You want corn to be around 20 percent or below (at harvest)," Hennen said. Yet, "it's different for every farmer," he said.

"At the price of corn, not too many people are fired up about drying corn," Reese said.

This year's growing season had the most growing degree days since 1988, Reese said. WCROC records daily temperatures and weather conditions including growing degree days or GDD.

GDDs are related to plant development. Plants need heat to grow. The NDAWN Network, the North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network, website describes corn growing degrees as this: Corn growing degree days are calculated by subtracting the plant's lower base or threshold temperature of 50 °F (10 °C) from the average daily air temperature in °F or °C. Average daily air temperature is calculated by averaging the daily maximum and minimum air temperatures measured in any 24-hour period. Corn growing degree days (GDD) are calculated by subtracting the plant's lower base or threshold temperature of 50 °F (10 °C) from the average daily air temperature in °F or °C. Average daily air temperature is calculated by averaging the daily maximum and minimum air temperatures measured in any 24-hour period.

The area had 118 GDDs in April which equals a week of weather in July or August, Reese said.

"Most people benefited from the growing degree days in May. We had 448 GDDs in May and we average 312," Reese said. "If you planted corn by May 13, you would have lost some GDDs but we still had above average growing degree days."

The area had 20 GDDs more than average in July and August, Reese said.

"Growing degree days are a guideline. There are a lot of variables but it's a good benchmark," Reese said.

According to weather predictions, the area wasn't done with GDDs last week. Temperatures in the 80s through the week and over the weekend could result in about 100 GDDs, Reese said.

Those GDD will help mature crops and reduce the moisture in corn.

Henne said the corn crop should be good and the soybean crop looks "pretty good."

Yields for soybeans and corn should be good in most cases, Reese said. Some fields will have reduced harvest because of rain and other conditions, he said. Fields with good tile drainage fared better than those without, Reese said.

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