A team approach helps to get through harvest
Last week when driving between farms in my area, I put on 350 miles. I posted this on Twitter about the activities I saw during that drive in Nelson County: "Sprayers killing, combines rolling, trucks dumping, swathers cutting, balers haying, scrapers ditching, drought stress, hail damage, and kochia."
It is the most active time of the year for farmers as they begin the harvest stretch of the season. The team approach is very evident during harvest. Combine operators, grain cart drivers, truck drivers, parts runners, equipment mechanics, elevator personnel and meal preparers all help make the harvest move efficiently.
The other main component is weather. While weather has allowed for one of the easiest beginnings to harvest that I can remember, many of the farmers I work with haven't received more than an inch of rain in the last 45 days. The cereal crops have been favorable though. Barley has been average to above average yields with very good quality and most acres have been harvested.
Wheat and durum have been more variable. Certain areas simply didn't receive enough rain during the season and have experienced below average yields, but with very high protein. Most farms are coming in with average to above average yields with protein ranging from 12-15 percent. Varieties are making a big impact again this year and there will be much discussion in the coming months about those.
The first canola has been harvested and early reports are decent for this crop. A majority of these fields have been swathed or desiccated to be harvested straight. These acres will be combined during the next two weeks.
Edible beans are starting to get desiccated in Walsh County and a majority of my southern area will begin desiccation next week. The warm weather has moved harvest earlier for all crops and will likely be desiccating sunflowers in the next week or two.
While the warm, dry weather has been exceptional for cereal harvest, it has taken its toll on the row crops. You can't drive by many bean fields in my area without seeing some level of drought stress and in some cases, severe drought stress. Edible beans appear to be handling the drought better than soybeans, but in both crops, we are taking yield loss. With these conditions, spider mites have flared up and some soybean fields may get an insecticide treatment if we see levels increase over the next few days.
Corn hasn't quite shown the severe drought symptoms that soybeans have and that is likely due to the crop being ahead of schedule in maturity. However, if we continue in this dry spell without any rain the next two weeks, corn will also begin to lose yield.
For the past few seasons most farms have experienced a favorable cereal crop and row crop yields. This year will not be the same. July and August have simply been too dry to this point and row crop yields will be average to below average.
As farmers have their harvest team in place, I want to thank the team that makes Huso Crop Consulting successful. This season we had six college scouts and one high school graduate handling the data entry. A majority of the college scouts come from local farms so they have been doing double duty the past couple of weeks. They have been scouting until noon, then they head home to help with harvest on their farms. The scouts this year included Logan Huso of Eagan, Minn.; Jeremy Schonauer of Edmore, N.D.; Nathan Steffan of Michigan, N.D.; Landon Wood of Fordville, N.D.; Jaden Varnson of Lakota, N.D.; Tanner Armstrong of Lawton, N.D.; and Taylor Wittenhagen of Lakota. Brent Messner from McVille, N.D., is the full time agronomist on staff and helps greatly with managing the scouts, and now will be running the soil sampling program.
Have a safe harvest season!