View From the Cab

Rain Halts Harvest in Indiana, But a Lifesaver to Wheat in Nebraska

Richard Oswald
By  Richard Oswald , DTN Special Correspondent
DTN View From the Cab farmers Lane Robinson and Leon Kriesel. (DTN photo illustration by Nick Scalise)

LANGDON, Mo. (DTN) -- "We didn't do anything yesterday. Just a rainy, misty, ucky kind of day." That's the way DTN View from the Cab Farmer Lane Robinson summed up the weekend at his farm outside Cromwell, Indiana. "Saturday felt like December ... It's almost unseasonably cold," he said.

Harvest around Lane's place began a couple of weeks ago. Neighbors had been working since then, until a brief spate of wetter weather brought combines to a halt. "I didn't see anything moving here. It's supposed to be a good week the next week and everybody'll keep marching along," he told DTN late Sunday.

After cutting "average" soybeans "in the mid-50s range" last week, Lane and his farming partner, Eric Strater, have dipped into corn with better results. "We popped into the first corn, a 150-acre pivot (irrigated) field with no drowned-out spots on sandy, loamy ground at Eric's home farm. It was 236 bushels per acre (corrected dry yield) at 21% moisture. We only made it half or two thirds of the way across the field. It will take a while to dry that," Lane said.

Local dryland corn has been reported yields of about 200 bpa. And corn is standing well -- so far. "Given the amount of moisture (rain), I don't think stalks are tremendously strong, but I haven't seen any corn down. There are some tops out of the stalks." Lane was asked if there was enough storage space to hold a big crop. He replied, "There's no corn going on the ground yet, but yield may be good enough that we will. But you don't have to go very far south, just one county below us, where you're going to find plenty of bin space. They just aren't going to have the crop."

With cool and wet spring planting delays, crops are all over the board depending on variety, maturity, and planting dates. "I actually have some 3.8 maturity soybeans that were planted May 5 that still have leaves on. Development is a little delayed." Despite that, harvest is moving along. "Everybody seems to be going at it, doing beans when they'll go. Most have moisture in the 11% to 12% moisture range. I haven't even heard of anybody who had to put air on them."

A marketing advisory service Lane subscribes to, Roach Ag Marketing, offers subscriber yield reports as an alternative to USDA estimates. "Roach has Indiana average corn yield at 173 bpa now, based on 83 reports. USDA is estimating 156. Roach is 17 bushels over USDA. In soybeans USDA has us at 50. Roach submissions have it at 51," he said.

"I'm looking for sales points for 2016 crop corn already. We're back in that area where you have that time decay -- the value is in time -- just like an option. March 2017 corn is looking attractive at $4.20," Lane explained.

Besides row crops, Lane raises more than 600,000 Pekin ducks in 10 barns each year. "We're loading out tonight. I only have one barn to ship this week," he said. When Lane purchased the existing facility, one of the changes he made was to shorten turnaround time in order to use it more efficiently.

"Our fiscal year ends November 30. We're going to end up with 83 flocks. When I first took operations over, we were on a seven- or eight-week cycle. Now we're in a pretty hard six-week cycle doing 17 turns per barn every two years." In Lane's three dirt-floor barns, used litter will "compost mortality" by being layered with deceased ducks, which kills pathogens by heating up to 150-200 degrees. The other seven barns with slatted floors will be cleaned and allowed to dry two or three days. Then brooders are placed inside and barn thermostats get set up to 80 degrees before replacement ducklings arrive.

"We don't just wait around," he said.

Meanwhile, outside Gurley in the Nebraska Panhandle, View From the Cab farmer Leon Kriesel had good news; "We got saved. We got a rain Friday night. We ended up at 0.78 inches. It was a lifesaver for the wheat I think," he told DTN late Sunday.

Leon grows and sells certified seed from about 3,000 acres. He has been concerned because absence of late-season rains left much of the winter wheat he seeded last month marooned in dry dirt. "Emergence has been spotty. I think a lot of people were really relieved. This will fill everything in. I'd say by the end of the week we'll see lots of wheat," he said.

Weather conditions at Leon's place Sunday evening were foggy and chilly. But with a typical first freeze date in September, frost still isn't a threat in weather forecasts, with more rain possible by midweek.

Some area growers are looking at the possibility of replanting thin wheat stands. With that in mind, Leon has been making preparations. "We had some reserves we kept back. There was some replant going on so we decided to clean that. We finished cleaning two varieties of what we had saved, last week. We'll clean another variety this week. We're happy with the rain, because now we can touch up the skips and get that done," he said.

Leon didn't plant any this year, but area corn harvest is off to a slow start. Irrigated fields picked last week tested around 30% moisture. "They should be happy with what they got. It looked good," he said. Dryland corn should be getting dry enough for harvest. Proso millet harvest was mostly complete before last week's rain. Sunflowers and milo need more time.

"There was some sugar beet harvest going in last week to get the plant up and running. They'll probably get started this week. They have a set date when they start picking," he said. Temperatures are an important component of beet harvest. "They pile the beets and cover them with straw. Some people think that's to keep them from freezing, but it's to keep them cool," Leon explained.

Winter isn't far off in Nebraska high country where Leon noted that the Sidney airport recorded a Sunday high temperature of 52 degrees.

"You had to wear a coat," he said.

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Richard Oswald