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Corn in Nelson County, N.D., in November 2019. (Mark Huso, Special to Agweek)

The struggle is real for farmers this season

In recent years, through social media you can easily find a hashtag for "struggle is real."

I'm certain no other industry can share in that more than the farmers that continue the 2019 harvest. Last month, I shared about the heavy snow much of our region received. Now we deal with the effects, and all are negative.

Before and after. Prior to the snow, our area of northeast North Dakota was looking at a good edible bean harvest. Pinto beans were averaging anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000 pounds per acre. After the snow, many yields are 1,000 to 1,800 pounds per acre. Soybeans were also doing well before the snow with yields above 40 and some even 50 bushels. After the snow, with many beans lodged from the storm, snowbanks built up, and water/ice ponding kept yields around 30 bushels and some below that.

Canola has also seen significant yield hits after the snow with plants laying flat on the ground now increasing harvest loss and greatly slowing down harvest efficiency. Sunflowers that have had to stay in the field are suffering now from sclerotinia head rot. Yields are 50% of what the potential looked like.

Crops are still in the field. We are soil sampling our unharvested edible beans. Our field roster indicates we have 65 fields that didn't make it to the processing plant. That makes up close to 50% of the edible bean acres I work with and they are still in the field mostly because they needed to be cut underground with equipment and now with the frozen soil we are unable to do that.

Soybeans are nearing the end. A few farms still must battle the rough conditions. Farmers have had to work with snow, water, and ice through their combines which have caused parts and equipment to freeze up and break. Repair bills will no question exceed what farmers typically budget for. Many of the soybeans that have came off the fields are not dry and soybean drying costs are another budget item that is exceeding expectations. Sunflowers are also almost complete.

And then there is the corn. Anywhere you drive in the eastern half of North Dakota and I'm assuming most of the Midwest, there are corn fields galore. High in moisture, low in test weight seems to be the pinnacle of the struggle for many farms in this region. Elevators and ethanol plants will struggle to find markets for the quality of corn that is coming in. Farmers will struggle with slow harvest efficiency as they've been told to use low heat in the drying system to increase the test weight. Then, the struggle will trickle down from there.

The Midwest is about to be reminded how real the power and struggle of "trickle down" economics can be. The farmers and elevators are doing their best to limit the losses and find profit where they can, but the struggle is real.

The economy in our cities and towns will no question feel the struggle our farmers our going through. So those not tied to a farmer as close as some of us, please understand and respect what they are dealing with on a day to day basis.

Farmers not only provide for their families and employees, but they provide almost everything that our small towns and cities have been built on.

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