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Harvest on hold for area farmers

Cloudy skies and wet fields are the norm now as conditions are not favorable for harvest. This scene is from a field near Alberta as it looked on the morning of Oct. 5. Rae Yost/Stevens County Times

Al Backman farms in rural Alberta and he's making harvest plans.

"I'm making prepaations for playing in the mud," Backman said. He expects wet conditions to continue this fall as most of harvest in the region has been delayed for several weeks.

August was wetter and cooler than average. Wet weather continued into September. Not only has the weather delayed the harvest it's also had an impact on crop growth.

"(Corn) is not progressing at all," Backman said.

Rainfall amounts of nearly 7 inches and 3 inches in the county throughout the past two weeks has caused creeks to overflow.

Terry Johnson, manager of CHS New Horizons in Morris, said this will be the latest harvest in 10 or 15 years.

Backman would agree. This fall reminds him of the fall of 2004 when field conditions were wet and harvest started late.

Farmers would be well into soybean harvest and would have started corn harvest by this time in a typical year.

Ken Nohl farms land near Hancock. He's hoping conditions improve throughout the next several days so that he can continue harvest late next week.

"We need sunshine and for it to be breezy. It would be nice if temperatures would get into the 60s and 70s," Johnson said.

Nohl said most of his farm land is tiled so rain water drains from the fields. "If it hadn't been tiled, (conditions) would have been worse," he said.

Nohl has been farming since 1970. He recalled one year when he finished combining corn just before Thanksgiving.

When farmers do get into the corn fields, the corn will likely have a high moisture count. Johnson expects to be drying a lot of corn at the elevator this year to remove the moisture.

Yet, even with the cooler and wetter growing conditions and the late harvest, Johnson said overall crops don't look bad this fall. ""This one looks average to above average," Johnson said. The key now is, "if we can get it out of the field," Johnson said.

A late harvest and any lost crop would only compound the issue with low corn prices that were about $2.70 per bushel on Oct. 4. Soybean prices are also low at around $8.63 per bushel on Oct. 4.

Nohl said he hasn't been getting nervous or anxious about the weather. "It seems like we usually get it out," Nohl said of harvesting crops.

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