This week’s harvest blogger is Dan Renaud (“the guy with the suspenders”), Case IH Combine Product Specialist for Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. Renaud has been with the company for 32 years. He has spent the last 16 years as a Case IH Product Specialist and has focused solely on combines for the last 11 years. Like all Case IH Product Specialists, Renaud is based in the field, where he can most efficiently support Case IH customers and dealers.
In my territory, we have good news and we have news that’s not so good, but for the most part, we’re getting through this. Without question yields are down; however, the improved grain prices mean the news isn’t all bad. Harvest dates are way ahead of schedule in my entire area. The wheat harvest was ahead of schedule and we’re seeing this same pattern with the fall harvest.
Last year, the dry conditions were more evident as you traveled south toward the Texas coast. Unfortunately, significantly fewer acres were planted to rice in 2012 in Texas because of the dry weather last year, and more acres were planted with alternative crops such as corn and milo. This year, the dry conditions moved more severely north and it wasn’t as big a problem in the southern part of my region. Eastern Kansas closely mirrored the traditional corn-producing areas of the Midwest, with much drier conditions this year.
In terms of positive news, South Texas (along the Gulf Coast) had ideal rains earlier this year, which resulted in some nice harvest yields above and beyond farmers’ expectations.
Normal yields in corn range from 110 to 120 bu/acre, though we have had numerous reports of yields in the 180 bu/acre range. As you move to other areas of the Grain Belt, such as the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma, they were drier than normal. However, much of the area is irrigated, so farmers here were able to maintain relatively good yields.
Unfortunately, irrigation can support Mother Nature but it can’t replace Mother Nature. Even so, we’ve seen pivot circles produce yields of 200 bu/acre on the south side where it’s less protected and up to 285 bu/acre on the north side. In dry-land areas across Oklahoma and North Texas, we’ve seen lower yields, with reports of anywhere from 110 to 180 bu/acre.
As we get into Kansas we see more of a mixed bag. It was much drier than normal in eastern Kansas, and the drought affected eastern Kansas more than it did in other corn-producing states. Yields are noticeably down in corn, particularly in nonirrigated corn. We’re seeing lower-than-normal yields in irrigated corn, too. As you move west across the state, conditions improve. We’re just now getting yield information from western Kansas. It’s coming out of the field much more slowly in this area because of better climate conditions and the more common use of irrigation.
As of September 16, 51 percent of the corn in Kansas was harvested and the four-year average is 22 percent by that date! Texas is closer to its average schedule because much of the crop is irrigated. It’s coming in at 68 percent harvested and the four-year average is 63 percent.
If you look at the condition of the corn crop in Texas, analysts report 30 percent of the crop as “fair,” 37 percent as “good” and 14 percent as “excellent.” In contrast, Kansas is rated 21 percent “fair,” eight percent “good” and zero percent “excellent.”
Milo and Soybean Harvests Beginning
Milo harvest is just getting underway, and it seems to be holding its own in many areas. Milo is a dry crop and doesn’t require as much moisture as corn.
The soybean harvest is just getting underway, and it’s a little too early to tell how this crop will be affected by the dry conditions. We did get some timely rains to help fill out the pods so we’re optimistic.
More Variation than Usual
One problem we hear about relates to significant irregularities in crop yield in a given field. It is more of a challenge to run your equipment efficiently when a field has 80 bu/acre in one part of the field and 180 bu/acre in another part of the field.
As you look at reduced yields in corn, I recommend farmers set their combines for cob diameter. With smaller cobs you have a smaller concave clearance and the opposite is true for larger cobs. Case IH Axial-Flow combines are designed to handle stressful crop conditions as well as normal conditions. Watch this video to learn more.
Commodity prices are better than we’ve seen in recent years and they could improve even further as the harvest continues. This will offset the lower yields for a lot of farmers. For the most part, farmers are optimistic. They’ve begun planting winter wheat and we’re looking forward to a successful wheat harvest next year.
How do the crops look in your area? We’d like to know and we appreciate your feedback. Look for more harvest reports in the upcoming weeks. It’s all part of our efforts to help you Be Ready for the challenges and opportunities associated with farming.