Dry weather jump-starts harvest

Register City Editor

Register/Bob Johnson
Fields are still muddy, but cutting soybeans is an inherently dusty operation, as this harvest scene Wednesday afternoon west of Iola shows.

PIQUA — “We’re as busy as we’ve ever been,” Marvin Lynch said Wednesday afternoon, as trucks heavily laden with grain streamed onto the scales at Piqua Farmers Co-op elevator.
The fall harvest has been an on-again, off-again affair, with only a smattering of rain-free days strung together before this week.
“Everyone is running right now,” Lynch said. “They’re cutting where they can, in one part of a field or another.” Fields remain muddy from last week’s rain.
No surprise. The cooler weather has kept fields from drying and less daylight has limited the number of hours combines can run, although the last couple of nights a common sight has been lights snaking through fields.
“The soybeans are finally dry,” Lynch said. Moisture content is coming in at 13 percent or less. Corn has stayed a little wet, at about 161⁄2 percent; it’s considered dry at 151⁄2 percent.
The early morning moisture keeps from cutting the beans until they dry out in the afternoon sun. A good day’s cutting is about 50 acres. In ideal conditions, up to 100 acres can be harvested in a day’s time.
Lynch figures about a third of the beans are in the bin, 50 percent of the corn.
“We’ve taken in 300,000 bushels of beans and half a million bushels of corn,” Lynch said. If it were all on site, that amount would be climbing toward the elevator’s capacity of 1.3 million bushels. If there were any advantage to the wet weather, it was that Lynch was able to dispatch grain-filled highway transports from the elevator to free storage space. Even so, Lynch admits to occasional fits of anxiety.
“We’re filling up pretty fast,” he said.
An ace up his sleeve is on-ground storage, which has been done in the past.
While soybean and corn are being harvested, milo remains relatively untouched.
“I know some of the guys would like to get to the milo — before long there will be the worry of it going down — but those fields, with all the foliage, dry out a lot slower than bean or corn fields,” Lynch said.
From what farmers have said, Lynch estimates yields at about 50 bushels an acre for soybeans, which includes some after-wheat beans that usually produce at a fraction of full-season crops. Corn is coming in at 125 to 130 bushels an acre. Prices have remained strong, with Wednesday’s posted price for soybeans $9.45 a bushel and $3.40 a bushel for corn.
The weather forecast through early next week looks good for the harvest, with highs Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the 70s and only a 20 to 30 percent chance of rain Monday night and Tuesday.