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"It's better than I thought it might be," said Allen Wolf, Adrian, as he combined soybeans Tuesday afternoon on his Olney Township farm near Adrian. "I just got started again after the rains."

Harvest to kick into high gear

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WORTHINGTON -- Sunshine and wind should prove to be a perfect combination today for farmers hoping to get back into the field to harvest soybeans after 4 to 8 inches of rain fell on the region one week ago.

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By Monday afternoon, combines began to roll in some of the drier areas of southwest Minnesota and northwest Iowa. It is anticipated by later this week the region's farmers will be in full harvest mode.

"They just got in late yesterday afternoon and they haven't gone back out today yet," said Matt Zeman Tuesday morning. Zeman is grain merchandiser for Cooperative Elevator Association's Harris facility. "Field conditions seem to be getting better. It is surprising that they're in the fields already."

Zeman said harvest was mainly centralized in the area around Hartley, Iowa, where fields were not only hit with rain, but hail as well.

"There was some crop loss down in the Hartley area -- the town got hit about as bad as anything," he said.

Though Zeman said there haven't been enough farmers getting entire fields harvested to determine just how well the yields are, those he has talked to are reporting above average yields.

"The low ground is not as good as normal years, but the higher ground is a little better than normal," he said.

New Vision's grain division manager Dan Uttech also reported some combines in the bean fields by Monday afternoon, stretching from Hills and Beaver Creek in far-western Rock County to Mountain Lake in eastern Cottonwood County.

"We didn't anticipate them getting in the field that quickly, but there are guys trying it," Uttech said. "Some of the producers that started (Monday) are going after the fields not only hit with rain, but with hail. They were concerned about harvestability ... they don't want to leave (the crop) out there any longer than they have to."

Uttech said he'd heard of some fields in the Mountain Lake area that were wiped out with last week's late-season hail storm, while some fields near Jeffers were also hit hard.

"It was small hail, but it came with a lot of wind and did a fair amount of damage," he added.

Uttech said with a forecast for dry weather the rest of this week, combines should be "going pretty hard" by Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

"Because of that, we will be here as long as they need us to be -- including Saturday and Sunday," he said.

As for yields being reported to New Vision, Uttech said they range anywhere from 55 bushels per acre on the low end to 62 to 65 bushels per acre on the higher side.

"Yields are looking very good," he said. "I think everybody's pretty optimistic."

The corn crop is also looking good, and is on a much earlier pace in terms of dry-down.

"There have been a few guys that did a little corn for feed needs," Uttech said. "Some of the early maturities are down to 19 percent (moisture) already."

Later maturing varieties have been reported at closer to 29 percent moisture, but Uttech said with the wind that is forecast for today, moisture levels can drop by one-half or one point per day.

Uttech said corn yields, although anticipated to be some of the best among the Corn Belt states, won't be quite as high as farmers had hoped for. The problem was the summer heat, when nighttime lows were too warm and resulted in ears not completely filling out.

"Guys were talking record yields before and now they're just talking very good yields," Uttech said.

Wet fields

cause for concern

University of Minnesota Extension Crops Specialist Liz Stahl said Tuesday that farmers should keep an eye on their bean fields for any potential discoloration.

"There's certain areas that are still under water, depending on where you're at," she said. "The quality is going to be a concern. You could have some fungi move in and discolor the seed, and that could result in some dockage.

Stahl said if farmers have low-lying areas that are still under water, it may be best to keep those beans separate during harvest so they aren't co-mingled with the better quality beans.

"That's the same with corn," she said. "There are some fields with a significant amount of water -- up to the corn ears, and that's not a good thing."

Stahl said corn ears that remain in standing water for an extended time could develop mold and even sprouting kernels.

"That shouldn't be a feeding issue, but if you try to sell that grain, it's likely going to get docked," she said.

Stahl recommends when farmers harvest fields that developed molds, they should protect themselves against exposure to mold spores.

"It's not a bad idea to wear a dust mask and keep those molds out of the respiratory system," she said. "You just don't want to be breathing a lot of that in while you're harvesting or handling the crop."

Additional resources related to flooding and crops can be found on the university's website, www.extension.umn.edu.

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Julie Buntjer
Julie Buntjer joined the Daily Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington and graduate of Worthington High School, then-Worthington Community College and South Dakota State University, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. At the Daily Globe, Julie covers the agricultural beat, as well as Nobles County government, watersheds, community news and feature stories. In her spare time, she enjoys needlework (cross-stitch and hardanger embroidery), reading, travel, fishing and spending time with family. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at www.farmbleat.areavoices.com.
(507) 376-7330
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