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Published November 06, 2009, 07:54 AM

Latest harvest in recent memory stretches farm workdays into night

ALEXANDRIA — Through the roar of the combine, the swirling of the chaff and the dark of night, Gary Jarding’s determination shone through. Though wet conditions have made it tough to get into fields and the harvest now looks like it could stretch into winter, Jarding knows he’s got a bumper crop waiting.

By: Laura Wehde, The Daily Republic

ALEXANDRIA — Through the roar of the combine, the swirling of the chaff and the dark of night, Gary Jarding’s determination shone through.

Though wet conditions have made it tough to get into fields and the harvest now looks like it could stretch into winter, Jarding knows he’s got a bumper crop waiting.

“This is probably the best crop we’ve ever had,” he said Tuesday night as his combine rolled through a cornfield, well past sunset. The combine later got stuck in the soggy field.

Jarding is finished with his soybean harvest — he sometimes stayed in the field until 1 a.m. — and is now working on corn. Statewide, farmers are enduring similar struggles. Though record yields and production are possible, only 50 percent of the statewide soybean crop was harvested as of Sunday, compared to 92 percent at the same time last year. Only 12 percent of the statewide corn crop was harvested, compared to 31 percent last year.

“Normally, we would be done by now,” Jarding said. “We got the beans done, and that was a struggle, because it was so cloudy and it rained all the time.”

Jarding, who has been farming since 1968, said this is likely to be the latest harvest he has ever experienced. He and his sons, Tim and David, along with other family members, hope to have the harvest done by the end of the month.

“I hope we are done by Thanksgiving or a little before,” Jarding said. “The wind and the sunshine helps. If we get nice temperatures for a week, week and a half, this corn could dry in a matter of four to five days.”

With high temperatures between 50 and 70 degrees forecast every day through Monday, Jarding might get his wish.

The moisture level of Jarding’s corn Tuesday was already down to 19 percent, from 25 percent last week. Dry corn is typically 14 to 15 percent moisture, he said. Not having to spend time manually drying the corn would help speed up the harvest.

Jarding said October was a hectic month, and frustrating when he could not be in the field.

“The whole month of October you’d get maybe one day or a day and a half per week (of work),” he said. “Then it would rain for four days and you couldn’t do anything. But we’ve got dairy cattle and feed cattle, so we’ve got plenty to do even when we’re not in the field.”

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