The number of days spent working in the field this past year have been brief for local farmers.
But with non-stop moisture and the ever-present chance for more rain in the forecast, local crop producers have been forced to be flexible, getting into their fields whenever they had the chance.
This year’s fall harvest continued to test farmers who worked well into the night in the cab of a combine, harvesting corn and soybeans and hoping for a decent product and an even better price.
No one knows this more than Ken Rumford, operations manager with Ottawa Co-op. Rumford has seen the effects the seemingly endless wet weather has on local farmers.
“This has played a big factor in how backed up the harvest has been this year and last,” he said.
“With the planting being delayed in the springtime (30 days on corn), corn and bean planting actually ran together this year. Then the floods came, and drowned out some of the corn, so you have corn 3-feet tall in fields. Then, you get the planter back out to replant in the drowned spots, and this spreads corn harvest out due to the maturity of the plants.”
Rumford describes the perfect harvest as having corn crops out of the field, and then switch to beans. But this year’s harvest was far from ideal.
“This year, we started with the early corn that was dry,” he said. “Beans have just now started to dry down enough to harvest. There will be corn that will also be harvested after beans due to the late-planting. The key to harvest is to focus on the beans when there ready. They won’t stand in the field like corn will when the weather gets bad.”
In mid-October, Rumford said he didn’t notice the excess moisture affecting local grain quality this year, noting corn yields in Franklin County averaged 80-130 bushels per acre, while Douglas and Osage counties averaged 150-230 bushels. But the same wasn’t true in Coffey County, which was affected more significantly. Corn averaged 50-100 bushels acre.
“This is where a lot of the flooding happened,” he said. “We have seen a little bit of quality issues, but nothing to speak of.”
On Oct. 23, Rumford said the Ottawa location received 285,000 bushel of corn, with the harvest standing at nearly 66 percent complete. Soybeans, which were just beginning to be harvested, were at 6 percent of harvest with 50,000 bushels received. Early on, Rumford said officials were estimating 50,000 bushels of milo this year - an increase over last year.
“A lot of that has to do with the amount of time we had to plant corn,” he said. “Some corn acres went to milo.”
By Nov. 6, the corn harvest was nearly 72 percent complete at the Ottawa location, while beans weren’t far behind at 60 percent. By this time, the local coop had already received 475,000 bushels.
About a week later, fickle weather forced farmers to put their individual harvests in overdrive. By Nov. 12, the Ottawa location received 300,000 bushels of corn, which put the harvest at 85 percent complete. Beans continued picking up steam, with 500,000 bushels received, and 74 percent of the harvest complete.
As this year’s harvest begins winding down in Franklin County, the state's crop outlook as of Nov. 18 showed 95 percent of the state's corn harvest was complete, which is slightly ahead of last year's harvest. Soybeans harvested stood at 92 percent - ahead of 80 last year. Milo was also reported to be 92 percent harvested, which was both noticeably higher than last year's figure - 70 percent - and well above average for this time of the year. Typically, only 84 percent of the state's sorghum harvest is complete by this time.