Harvest Time

By Chris Steinbach · Wednesday, September 5, 2012
The monitor at Rob Herring’s right hand told a story that may become all too familiar to many Iowa farmers as the 2012 harvest begins.

In the time it took to travel the length of a football field in his 9770 John Deere combine, Herring watched his corn yields rise and fall. Herring, 39, and his father, Bob Herring, both of whom live near Mechanicsville, began harvesting corn last week on about 300 acres the family owns at the Atalissa corner. In places, the corn yielded more than 200 bushels per acre, but it dropped to around 80 bushels in many other places.

The corn, which was planted April 12-13, averaged about 100 bushels per acre, Rob Herring said, or about half of what might have been possible if not for this summer’s drought.

It’s been a long, hot summer. The week of Aug. 21 was the wettest statewide in the past 10 weeks and only the second week in the past 3½ months to average greater than normal rainfall, according to Harry Hillaker, the state climatologist at the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship.

His comments were released Monday, along with a report from the USDA National Agricultural Statistical Service that said Iowa farmers have begun chopping corn for silage. Some farmers, including the Herrings, are starting to harvest corn for grain or seed according to the report, which said 27 percent of the state’s crop is mature – some two weeks ahead of normal.

Corn condition statewide is reported at 23 percent very poor, 30 percent poor, 32 percent fair, 14 percent good and 1 percent excellent.

“The crop continues to mature rapidly and will likely result in a record early harvest in many parts of the state this year,” Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey said in a statement.

Rob Herring says he doesn’t remember ever beginning the harvest in August. He could be done in October if everything goes well, he said.

The corn harvested here is two weeks ahead of his crops in Cedar County, where Herring said he is optimistic for a better harvest – perhaps 150 bushels per acres.

“It’s still really green-looking,” he said of his corn in Cedar County. “But you never know until you get out there.”

And rain over the weekend ought to help his soybean crop, which Herring said needed a drink.

“The rain a couple of weeks ago was a good thing for the beans,” he said. “Beans still have a chance.”

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