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Checking in on the U.S. grain harvest

Checking in on the U.S. grain harvest

Some farmers are pleased with harvest given the challenges of 2019

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

American farmers continue to make their way through the 2019 harvest.

Growers have harvested 75 percent of the U.S. corn crop and 87 percent of the soybean crop, the USDA’s Nov. 5 Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin says. Both those figures are slightly below last year’s progress.

Given the challenges farmers faced during the 2019 season, some producers are pleased with their crops.

“Harvest has gone better than we were expecting,” Phil Ramsey, a cash crop producer from Shelbyville, Ind., told Farms.com. “We’ve got our soybeans done and will finish corn in the next four or five days. Yields were better than we were anticipating but nowhere near where they needed to be for us to be profitable.”

One hurdle some U.S. farmers are navigating this fall is a propane shortage.

Governors from eight states signed a regional emergency declaration to ease regulations on propane transportation.

But Ramsey decided years ago to make a significant investment so he wouldn’t be caught in a position where he couldn’t dry his grain.

“The last time we had (a propane shortage) happen, about five years ago, I paid to have a natural gas line run to the dryer so I wouldn’t have the same problem” again, he said. “The natural gas hasn’t been as quick a payback as I thought it was going to be, but it’s definitely been worth the investment since I’m not in a position where I can’t dry my grain.”

Other producers, however, view the harvest differently.

Mother Nature’s cooperation for a good portion of the harvest might be the only positive to take away from this season, said Ryan Rhoades, a grain grower from Prospect, Ohio, who finished his harvest last week.

“We had phenomenal September and October weather that really paid dividends. I would give that an A grade,” he told Farms.com. “The crop, on the other hand, was horrible. I would put this as some of the worse crops in the nation. I’d give the whole harvest a D.”

Reflecting on the 2019 season, Rhoades remembered a saying his grandfather shared.

“A drought will starve you, but a flood will kill you,” he said. “That’s absolutely true. We just had too much water and it seriously wrecks your world.”

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