PALMYRA, Mo. — Farmers throughout Northeast Missouri are in the midst of harvest season, and they have been busy doing what they do best regardless of what Mother Nature has in store — adapt.
Marion County Farm Bureau President and local farmer Joe Kendrick began assisting with corn harvest efforts on his son’s farm yesterday. He said the yields were shaping up to best less than optimal, driven by the need to replant amid a wet spring. Soybeans in the area were able to fare better during a two- to three-week dry spell.
The dry days allowed the corn Kendrick harvested to be ready for storage in bins, and his son is preparing to plant rye for cattle to graze on. Unfortunately, deer had eaten all of the corn from the first 20 rows, leaving the stalks bare. Kendrick said farmers experienced a strong hay yield this year, but many are already feeding hay to cattle because the grass is short from the past few dry weeks.
Because of the considerable rainfall in the spring, crops didn’t get to develop root structures that went down deeper into the soil. As a result, when the topsoil moisture levels got drier, the crops were affected more directly by lack of available water. During the recent 9/10 inch of rainfall Kendrick received, he said the fields soaked “every drop” and the crops all looked rejuvenated.
“A lot of things happened during the spring that was out of our control. A lot of nitrogen got lost because of the wet soil,” he said. “The yields are not over-exceptional, but they aren’t bad, either.”
Kendrick said timely rainfall in the coming weeks could benefit soybeans, which still have pods filling throughout the region. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Agricultural Statistics Service Missouri Crop Progress and Condition Report as of Sept, 19, soybeans setting pods was 97%, compared to the five-year average of 95%. Mature corn was rated at 73%, exceeding the five-year average of 68% But corn harvested for grain was 17% complete, trailing the five-year average of 22% percent. Just one percent of soybeans had been harvested.
The USDA NASS report rated corn condition 2% very poor, 7% percent 7% percent poor, 25 percent fair, 56% good and 10% excellent. Soybean condition was rated 2% very poor, 6% poor, 30% fair, 55% good and 7% excellent.
Kendrick described the soybeans as a potential “bright spot.” He said many fellow farmers are waiting to harvest the beans, and the ones who have are finding a “pretty fair” bean crop. The beans are able to survive often on the heavy dew they received, Kendrick said, noting the need to adapt is essential every day.
“It’s a gamble — the things you do — it’s a part of dealing with Mother Nature. It’s frustrating sometimes, but we keep doing it for some reason — it’s got to be because it’s in our blood — it’s not because we’re in it for the money. It’s just never-ending, and just when you think you’ve seen all the challenges that could possibly be out there, another comes along that you’ve never seen before.”
As farmers prepare to move grain during the coming weeks, livestock and equipment, Kendrick reminded motorists and farmers to avoid distractions and remain alert — he has seen farmers and numerous motorists distracted by their cell phones. He urged everyone to take time and allow extra space for the equipment, which often occupies an entire blacktop road.
“Whoever that operator is, it’s somebody’s dad or grandpa or son, and we don’t want to see anybody lose their life over somebody being impatient,” Kendrick said.