Despite an unusually wet spring and a very hot summer, onlookers may have noticed some nice-looking crops along roadside fields as harvest time approaches.
But appearances don’t always tell everything.
For one thing, many crops which look normal to the untrained eye have yet to reach full maturity since the wet weather has resulted in some later than normal planting.
For another, it’s not as close to harvest time as people may believe.
Due to the wet weather, (the crops) got into the ground four weeks late,” said Joan Garmyn, general manager of the Hicksville Grain Co., “which means late harvesting unless we have a frost. If we do have a frost, we may not have much of a crop.”
“If this were the end of July,” said Brent Petersen, general manager of Jewell Grain Co., “we’d be in great shape.”
With ground conditions varying, often from farm to farm, it is common this time of year to see some crops struggling while others thrive, but this year many typically filled fields remain empty of crops due to the weather.
“The harvest is not going to be as (plentiful),” noted Petersen, “because many farmers didn’t get anything planted at all.”
And right now, even the planted crops are delayed.
Take corn, for instance. “It looks normal,” said Garmyn, “but let’s just say that in a normal year we’d see the kernels in the corn start to dent. Right now, they’re just forming; they’re not as hard.”
And it’s not just the corn that’s affected.
“The beans are another matter,” said Garmyn. “They’re podded, but they haven’t filled.”
But no one is writing off their crops just yet. Like many farm-related situations, this one is dependent on two things ... time and weather.
“We’ve got to add on the four weeks we’ve left behind,” said Garmyn, who holds out hope that all will be well if the weather holds out and gives the crops time to catch up to where they ought to be.
The good news is that predictions from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Prediction Center indicate above-normal temperatures for the last half of September, all but negating the possibility of an early frost.
“We’re going to still need some heat (to make up the difference),” noted Sarah Noggle, extension educator for agriculture and natural resources. “And even if we get the heat, I’m not sure the fields will make it to maturity in a timely manner.”
If all goes well, Garmyn said, “We’re looking at beans in October and maybe corn as late as December.”
The outcome of the harvest, said Petersen, “will depend on how much warm weather will set it. It’s hard to predict what Mother Nature is going to throw at us.”