The record early harvest continues and is picking up speed with 22% of the Iowa corn crop and 6% of the soybeans harvested as of September 16. Harvest is expected to continue to advance rapidly as farmers are eager to get their drought stressed crop out of the field before the stalks deteriorate further.
That's what USDA's latest weekly survey shows. Based on conditions as of September 16, the survey was analyzed and released September 17 by the Iowa office of USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service in Des Moines. With 22% of the corn crop harvested by Sunday, that's more than three times faster than the usual 7% for this date, notes Greg Thessen, who heads the Iowa office and oversees the survey.
Although only about a fourth of the harvest is in nationally, reports are coming in from some parts of the Corn Belt that yields are better than expected. Jerry Peckumn, who farms near Jefferson in west-central Iowa, says he's been pleasantly surprised. He didn't get any rain from June until mid-August and thought he'd get only half a crop. But his yields are turning out to be about two-thirds of what he'd normally get. He says his whole field yield average will probably be about 165 bushels per acre, which tops the USDA forecast for Iowa which is currently 140 bushels per acre.
Better genetics in today's corn and soybean varieties helped yields in drought
In northeast Iowa, Tim Recker at Arlington, has heard of 180 to 200 bushel corn in some fields and some 60 bushel beans in his area. That's encouraging considering how dry this year has been. He's just getting started on corn. In north-central Iowa, Jay Lynch at Humboldt says the high 40s to low 50s will catch the early bean yields. Corn moisture is running about 20% now. He says corn on corn got hurt the most this year—smaller ears and smaller kernels. The rotated corn is yielding better.
Near Emmetsburg in northwest Iowa, Jim Stillman harvested 205 bushels per acre on a 70 acre cornfield. He caught a couple of rains this summer but thinks todays better hybrids have performed better in the heat and drought than expected. Farmers note that in the 1988 drought -- the last major drought in Iowa -- that was before the biotech era. Peckumn agrees that the better genetics in today's corn and bean varieties are helping crops get through the drought.
The complete weekly Iowa Crop & Weather report is available on the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship's website at www.IowaAgriculture.gov or on USDA's site www.nass.usda.gov/ia. The report summary follows here:
Mostly dry conditions, cooler temperatures speeding 2012 corn harvest
CROP REPORT: Mostly dry conditions coupled with cooler temperatures during the week aided harvest of Iowa's crops, according to USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service, Iowa field office. There have been a few reports of farmers completing corn harvest and moving to soybean harvest. One reporter mentioned "This is the earliest harvest I have observed in my career." The week's activities included row crop harvesting, fall tillage, haying CRP acres, and hauling water for livestock.