Farmers took advantage of a break in the weather over the last week, but with less than half of the nation’s corn and 70 percent of soybeans harvested, some worry of the impact the lagging harvest may have on winter wheat planting and yield.
According to the USDA’s Crop Progress report, 46 percent of corn has been harvested as of Oct. 26. This progress is 15 percentage points above last week’s report but behind the five-year average of 65 percent and last year’s report of 56 percent.
Soybeans have also fallen behind the five-year average (76 percent) and last year’s pace (75 percent). Currently 70 percent of soybeans have been harvested.
Reuters suggests in an article here many farmers across the heartland are focusing on harvesting soybeans, which are more vulnerable to damage, while leaving corn to dry naturally in the field to save on drying costs.
“I have more patience than money,” Wayne Humphreys, an Iowa farmer, told The Gazette.
Brent Myers with the University of Missouri warns that the slow corn and soybean harvest may also delay winter wheat planting. And with a critical planting deadline quickly approaching in Missouri and other states, these farmers will have to decide very soon – if they have not already – whether or not to plant wheat this fall at all.
In Missouri, just 38 percent of winter wheat has been planted, compared to the five-year average of 55 percent. Meyers explains why delaying wheat planting could affect yields.
“Wheat is a cool season grass with a minimum temperature for growth of 40°F or slightly cooler. But, wheat grows very slowly near this minimum temperature. To maximize yield, we depend on wheat plants to accomplish three things during the autumn growth period. First, it must develop a root system that will resist heaving,” he explains. “Heaving occurs when water freezes and thaws underneath the wheat crown. The expanding ice raises the plant upward and can completely jack the plant out of the soil. If this happens, the plants desiccate and die.”