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Friday, May 6, 2016

Iowa farmers race to harvest crops as winter nears

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

WHITING - Two John Deere combines weren't racing each other across a soybean field north of Whiting Sunday.

They raced Mother Nature.

"We have 1,500 acres of soybeans left and it's supposed to rain again this week," said Craig Haveman, who ran one of the combines for his family's grain operation. "The rain will set us back."

A growing season that couldn't get started now can't seem to get finished. The field Haveman picked Sunday was replanted June 15, extremely late by his standards.

The beans still yielded 48 bushels per acre, not bad at all.

"That's a good yield for how short the plants are," said Haveman. "They're pretty full."

Across Siouxland - and especially south of Sioux City - farmers faced Haveman's dilemma. Four months ago they had to decide whether to replant acres drowned out by repeated May and June rains. If they did, they gambled that a killing freeze would hold off until at least mid October.

It did.

"We got a good frost last week and that really dried the stems," Haveman said. "It was pretty green out here until then."

The U.S.D.A. reported that as of Oct. 12, Iowa farmers had harvested 68 percent of the soybean crop, 11 percent behind the five-year average. Twelve percent of the crop was listed as being poor or very poor, while 47 percent was listed as good and 14 percent fell into the excellent category.

While the dried soybean stems allow work near Whiting to proceed a little quicker, Mother Nature isn't letting Haveman and his family put in full days. Heavy dews the past four weeks have prevented farmers from picking many soybeans before noon. Waiting for plants to dry has cut into each day's work production, and has stretched out this harvest season.

Rains, like those forecast Tuesday and Wednesday, won't help matters.

"It's going to take us a week to 10 days to get the soybeans done," said Haveman, who still has the bulk of the corn crop to harvest.

USDA corn numbers

As of Oct. 12, just 7 percent of Iowa's corn crop had been harvested. That's one-quarter of the total harvested by that date the past five years. Fourteen percent of the Nebraska crop had been picked by Oct. 12, which is half the five-year average. Only 11 percent of South Dakota's corn was in the bin by Oct. 12. The five-year average for that date is 24 percent in South Dakota.

In short, the corn harvest is lagging in all three states.

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