Farmers Work to Catch Up on Harvest


Iowa corn field during harvest. (WHO-HD)

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Data pix.

With the midterm elections drawing nearer, those seeking office have to take time away from harvest.

Democrat Candidate for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Tim Gannon was out at his family farm northeast of Des Moines for a couple hours. He was getting some farm time in before getting back on the campaign trail, dumping some soybeans harvested the night before in the nearby town of Mingo.

Unfortunately for Gannon and many other Central Iowa farmers, harvest is stalled because of the frost. Soybeans have to melt and then dry before combines can begin chopping, there are other campaign events the rest of the day.

Gannon says "Obviously, the weather has added a whole other layer of complications to harvest and campaigning but two weeks to the election so we'll be burning at both ends helping here and trying to get around the state to talk to as many voters as possible."

Cold weather didn't stop harvest, though, farmers had 4.4 days good for fieldwork in the last week according to the Iowa Crop Progress report.

Twenty-nine percent of the State's corn for grain crop has been harvested, three days ahead of last year but four days behind the five-year average. Farmers in southeast Iowa have neared the halfway point of corn for grain harvest while farmers in the northeast nearing a fifth harvested. Moisture content for field corn is at 19 percent and corn is 68 percent good or excellent.

The soybean harvest is  37 percent complete, 12 days behind the average. This is the smallest percentage of the soybean crop harvested by October 21 since 1985. Soybean conditions are 65 percent good or excellent.

State Climatologist Dr. Justin Glisan says there's been a flip in weather trends in the last two weeks, going from lots of rain to a rain deficit, which gives fields the opportunity to dry down and let farmers work on harvest.

Last October was the third wettest on record according to Glisan, and with this dry stretch, 2018 could end up in the top ten on record, but still dryer than last year.

However, Glisan says that won't last for long, outlooks show a tendency of above average rain toward the end of the month and into the start of November, "Probabilities aren't has high for what we've seen in the past so we might get these lighter rainfall, every other day, something like that. We're also looking at El Nino building in and we have a 70 to 75 percent chance of that occurring and we have a greater confidence that this will be a weak El Nino."

A weaker El Nino would mean a tendency toward warmer temperatures which could counterbalance the wetter weather.


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