Despite the spring’s torrential rains and flooding and the drought conditions area farmers have faced this year, the fall harvest appears to be much better than expected.
“Overall, I’d say it’s been a good harvest year,” Agricultural Business Specialist and Co-County Program Direct for the University of Missouri Extension Brent Carpenter said. “Most area farmers have been able to start early with the recent weather and they have just been able to keep running.”
The recent lack of rain has actually allowed many farmers to be ahead of schedule with their harvest because they have been able to get the corn crop out and go straight to the soybean fields.
The heavy spring rains may have actually helped the farmers Carpenter said.
“It seemed there was more variation this year in the planting times; some got in early, and some much later.” Carpenter said. “The rains meant the corn crop wasn’t well rooted and so the corn dried down quickly this season.”
The fact that it did dry down quickly has meant that area farmers have not had to spend additional time, labor and money to have the harvest dried by machine.
“Anytime you have to use driers it can affect the crop’s quality,” Carpenter added. “You want it to be at about a 13 percent moisture level; anything else can begin to affect the nutrient level of the corn.”
With most of the corn crop harvested Carpenter estimates that the soybean crop is 50 percent harvested.
“I guess we’re close to being half done here in Pettis County with soybeans, which is really unusual for the third week in October,” Carpenter said. “The farmers haven’t really taken a break and are trying to get the beans in before we start to see any fall rains.”
The excessive rains may also have bearing on a third crop: winter wheat.
Because of the heavy rains this spring, some farmers did not get their total acreage planted.
“The fields have been worked up and some farmers are getting ready to plant winter wheat which may see an increase in planting this fall,” Carpenter commented. “Depending on what happens with the fall weather, a lot of farmers may decide to use it as a cover crop and turn it under in the spring.
“That isn’t necessarily a bad thing,” Carpenter added. “It is becoming a current trend in agriculture and we’re seeing it done more than it has been in past years.”
The cover crops can be good for the soil because they can add organic matter and may help with erosion.
Carpenter said there is a field of thought that those same cover crops may turn to weed in some cases, which can be difficult to kill.
The hay crop has also seen mixed results this season.
“Because it was so wet, we have seen over mature plants in some areas,” Carpenter said. “The more mature the plant the less digestible they are for the animal.
“We saw a lot of fields that weren’t cut at all,” Carpenter added. “We need to some rain to bring the grass back for fall grazing.”
The National Weather Service in Pleasant Hill is calling for a slight chance of rain in the area later this week from Wednesday night through Saturday.
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1848