OTTAWA — 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.”
“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.”