As harvest starts, some positive reports from growers – Farm Progress

Posted: September 20, 2021 at 8:43 am

No one knows for sure just how good or bad crop yields and production will be until the combines get rolling. And that time is coming soon.

But early word from farmers is mainly positive and may fall in line with recent USDA forecasts of record corn and soybean yields across the Northeast, Michigan and Ohio.

Heres what some farmers across the region had to say about their crops thus far, and some things they did new this season:

Jim Hershey, Elizabethtown, Pa. Ill just say things are looking good, but my crop consultant found tar spot in my corn, he says about his corn. So there might be some management changes that have to go into effect for another year. It came on late, but once its here, it can be more pronounced, especially in corn after corn.

For his soybeans, Hershey doesnt like to predict anything and its still early, but he says enough rain in August will likely result in a good crop.

His says his winter wheat was top notch, with some of the wheat coming in at a 64-pound test weight. Im not sure the yield was quite tops, but the quality was the best I ever had, he says.

Scott Miller, Elsie, Mich. Miller farms 2,400 acres, including 150 acres of wheat, and 1,000 acres each of corn and soybeans. Things have been pretty good for the most part, he says, though tar spot hit his corn hard.

Weve been hearing rumblings about lower test weight, high-moisture corn. Soybeans could be the best beans I ever had. The potential is out there, he says.

His winter wheat was hit by drought early on and didnt make average yield in most places.

One thing he tried new this year was relay cropping on a 20-acre parcel. Last year Miller planted winter wheat in 8-inch rows, and came back this spring and no-tilled soybeans in between the rows to get them started. He then cut the wheat above that.

Ive seen it for years in different parts of the country. Its got enough of a promise that were going to do it again," he says.

Spreaders were busy emptying out manure storages on land surrounding the Kreider dairy complex outside of Manheim, Pa.

Chip Bowling, Newburg, Md. Things have been slow thus far in the combine for Bowling, who planted 450 acres of corn and 1,200 acres of soybeans this season.

The corn isnt drying down as quickly as it normally does this time of year on his southern Maryland farm, but yields have been solid with the combine reading more than 200 bushels in some places.

The corn crop here in southern Maryland looks exceptionally good, he says.

Full-season and double-crop soybeans are also looking good, but like many growers, Bowling is hesitant to predict any sort of yield.

His wheat crop struggled to get going as cool, wet conditions slowed down planting this spring. Still, he says hes pleasantly surprised by how it yielded. Hes even considering growing a more hard red winter wheat next year, as some local buyers are asking for it.

We finally got some varieties that will yield well here, so we may try that, he says. Well plant as much cover crops as possible. Something we may do thats different is carbon markets. We possibly might get into that. Were doing some homework on that.

Russ McLucas, McConnellsburg, Pa. McLucas growers 180 acres of corn, 80 acres of soybeans, 220 acres of wheat and around 150 acres of grass hay.

Silage is coming in about average this year, he says, with most of the crop being chopped at around 68% moisture with good quality.

His wheat crop was really good with a 60- to 62-pound test weight on average and no docks for vomitoxin. The first cutting of grass hay was good and then the spicket shut off.

Its been dry. We got a little bit of second cut but not enough. It was what it was, McLucas says.

Something new he rolled out this year was a 12-row Harvest International planter with all the precision planting stuff on it.

We were very impressed with the planter, he says. A lot of things are hype and BS. This planter is not hype or BS.

Meghan Hauser, Castile, N.Y. Fourth cutting was just placed in the bunks at Table Rock Farms. Hauser and crew grow 1,800 acres of corn and alfalfa to feed a herd of 1,150 dairy cows.

After two years of really short hay, Hauser says this years crop has been amazing. Corn silage chopping will start soon, she says, and thus far the crop looks good.

One thing her cropping crew started this year was planting green in spring, though she admits that the cover crops got away from them a little bit, making it tough to get silage planted.

There is a lot of promise, and we keep learning about it, she says. We continue to learn. Thats the fun thing of farming.

A farmer near Robesonia, Pa., works ground that was recently harvested for corn silage.

Ryan Crane, Exeter, Maine. Crane and crew grow 1,500 acres of potatoes and 2,100 acres of corn within a 200-mile radius in central and southern Maine. Corn and potatoes are grown in rotation, but some small grains winter rye and oats are mixed in, too.

Overall, corn is looking fairly good, he says. He plants a wide range of maturities, from 72- to 89-day varieties. Hes expecting 150 bushels in his 72- to 78-day fields, up to 170 bushels in his 80- to 85-day fields, and up to 200 bushels in his 89-day fields.

On grain, its good to get it planted right. We do two fertilizer products at planting. Good seed depth, spacing. We really to keep the planter calibrated right, he says. We do some fertility in spring, then a sidedress blend based on soil sampling.

Potato yields are variety dependent, but Crane is expecting some fields to average 400 cwt in some places. Thats pretty exceptional. I wouldnt be surprised if its 450 in some places; 300 is usually doing good, he says.

Steve Reinhard, Bucyrus, Ohio. Reinhard and his brother, Tim, run a seed and chemical business just outside Bucyrus near Toledo.

Like many growers, Reinhard says armyworm took a toll on his alfalfa fields this season.

He says soybean yields will be lower because of the cold, wet May. They could not recover to full potential. Some of my best-looking beans had some sudden death, he says. In all, the beans will be average to slightly above-average, but not a huge crop.

Some tar spot was found in his corn, but he doesnt expect it to reduce yield.

A little water damage early drowned out spots. I have heard some early-harvested test weights may be a little lighter than expected. It was very hot and dry in late August, Reinhard says.

Penn States annual crop tour visited 110 corn and soybean fields across the state, sampling sites with typical management practices for their respective counties. This years crop, while variable from field to field and even within the same field, appears to be promising for yield and quality. For more information, go to Penn State Extension.

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As harvest starts, some positive reports from growers - Farm Progress

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