After facing adverse conditions and unexpected challenges through the last few years, local farmers are glad to be in the fields harvesting crops from what has been something closer to a normal season. They are especially relieved to have some normalcy in the fields after what was a very wet spring of 2019 which delayed planting and, subsequently, harvesting.
“Early on, everything was really dry and good,” said Adam Shanks, a local farmer and Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator at Purdue Extension-Clinton County. “We got early beans harvested in a timely manner. The rest of the beans, the normal season beans, aren’t quite ready, so everybody switched over to maybe trying to shell some corn.
“The last week was really wet, cloudy, and the temps weren’t good,” he explained on Tuesday afternoon. “Beans need a sunny day like today to dry. Last week was kind of a delay in soybean harvest, but guys got some corn shelled and in the bin drying. This week, it looks like we are going to kick the door open and have a good week to get beans cut.”
The remainder of this week’s forecast in Clinton County calls for dry days with highs in the 70s or lower 80s.
“Weather-wise, this has been a more normal season,” Shanks said. “Planting got done timely. We got fertilizer put on timely. This fall, things are happening in a timely fashion. Last year, it was really delayed. Everything came off late and was generally high moisture. This year, I believe the corn has matured now and is ready to dry down, and the beans are drying down.
“Economy-wise, here lately the markets have rebounded quite nicely,” he continued. “Early on, there was a lot of skepticism and basically a lot of animosity with prices the way they were, but those have come around to be a little bit better now. I think, economy-wise, it is steady right now. I wouldn’t say it is great, but it is steadier than it was early on this year with the markets.”
Shanks also says that yields have been good – not record-breaking by any means, but still good.
“Yields have been OK,” he said. “We got a lot of heat in August and not a lot of rain. For beans, that took the end off of them. Corn, maybe it stressed it a bit. They are going to be good yields, but they are not going to be records this year.
“I am looking at a lot of beans where the top pod is aborted,” he added. “They were ready to put on a seed but got dry and aborted. Where it was a four-bean pod, there might be three in it. Where it was a three-bean pod, there might be two in it. That stacks against you on yield pretty quick.”
Still, Shanks believes, so far, this season has been much closer to normal than the previous few.
“It is nice to just have a more normal fall so far and get some work done after last year or two years ago when we had straight-line winds that blew some corn down,” he said. “Last year, everything was real late and wet and slow to dry. This year, as long as nothing changes now, we are on track to maybe get things done in a normal time frame.”
Shanks reminds drivers to be patient and exercise more caution during the harvest season.
“Be safe,” Shanks said. “Share the roads with the trucks sitting along the road, combines and tractors on the road. Everybody wants to get home and see their family at night, so please be safe and have patience. If you see a truck along the road, there is probably a farmer there somewhere and possibly kids. Be aware and give them space.
“Combines and tractors can’t just pull over anywhere,” he added. “There are steep ditches, mailboxes and power lines. There has to be a decent place to get off the road to let cars by. So, drivers need to have some patience to make sure the farmers gets there.”