Excessive moisture caused significant yield loss, one producer said
By Diego Flammini
American farmers are on the final stretches of the 2018 corn harvest.
Producers have harvested about 84 percent of the crop, the USDA’s latest Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin says. That number is up from 76 percent last week.
Producers in six states have combined more than 90 percent of their corn.
Farmers in North Carolina, for example, have harvested 99 percent of their corn crop, the USDA says.
The corn looked good early on, but heavy rains caused significant yield reductions, said Jeff Sparks, a producer from Tyrrell County, N.C.
“I was very pleased with my corn in the summer, but we had 14 inches of rain in July and August that robbed us of about 40 percent of our yield,” he told Farms.com. “We usually average between 180 and 190 bushels per acre, but we ended up in the 120 to 130 range.”
Sparks’s farm is located about 30 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, and the summer rains were tropical, he said.
In September, more rain came from Hurricane Florence.
The heavy rains serve as a reminder that Mother Nature is always in charge, Sparks said.
“We’ve got pretty good drainage here which does a good job of getting water off, but few fields can withstand 10 to 12 consecutive days of heavy rain like we had. There wasn’t much we could do but just watch it come down.”
While some farmers near the end of their harvests, others are monitoring their winter wheat emergence.
About 77 percent of the U.S. winter wheat crop is up, the USDA says. That number has climbed from 70 percent last week.
About 95 percent of Colorado’s winter wheat has emerged. But the crop needs moisture to yield well, said Jerry Cooksey, a producer from Roggen, Colo.
“I would say the crop looks okay but we’re going to need some help to get this crop to its full potential,” he told Farms.com. “We had a few small showers that helped it emerge, but it’s extremely dry here.”
In addition to dry conditions, Cooksey is also managing weeds in the fields.
“There’s always weed challenges,” he said. “I’ve sprayed for cheatgrass now, but I’m sure more of that will be done in the spring.”