With four good days to be in the field, farmers made substantial progress on harvest for the week ending Oct. 25. Corn maturity remains behind normal, and below average temperatures, even freezing temperatures could put the crop at risk.
“There's a lot of farmers struggling to not only get the crop out, but get it out with quality,” said Mike Leetch, Syngenta agronomy service manager. “A lot of corn and soybeans that have been or will be cut just simply didn't get to maturity.”
USDA estimates that soybean harvest has reached 62 percent complete, as of Oct. 28, according to the Crop Conditions and Progress Report. That is still six days behind last year and two weeks behind the five-year average.
Corn harvest for grain reached 22 percent, up from 11 percent the previous week. Harvest is about 11 days behind last year and 12 day behind the average.
“Many of the growers are experiencing corn that has lodged for a variety of reasons,” Leetch said. “The unaccounted for cost of lodged corn is really high in terms of the speed that you can go through with the combine and the crop that is lost or left on the ground.”
Growers really need to take the time this fall and determine the reason for lodged corn if they are seeing that in their fields.
“They absolutely need to understand why. Was it a crown rot? Is it root lodging from root worm? They need to figure out the core reason and absolutely plan to manage that crop differently next year so that that doesn't happen,” he said.
Weeds are also slowing down the combines this fall. With the wet season, many herbicide applications went on late or were missed, particularly in soybean fields.
“It's absolutely imperative, especially as they're cutting the crop right now and they're seeing weeds to make sure we identify what weeds are there,” he said. “What did we do last year that didn't work? If it didn't work, then we need to build out a plan this winter to address those specific weed issues by farm or by field.”
A single weed this fall could mean potential hundreds if not thousands of weed seeds being released for germination next season.
There are still pockets of corn that have yet to reach maturity. USDA estimates about 96 percent of the crop has reached maturity, 20 days behind last year and 9 days behind the average.
Harvest moisture levels are also a little high at 25 percent. Excess moisture in the seed could start to cause issues for both corn and soybeans as the temperature continues to fall below freezing.
“The soybeans will shrivel, they won’t be a nice round seed, they will have irregularities in the seed coat, and corn is much the same way when it just didn’t fill,” he said. “If it was really wet when the first hard frost hit, it will actually break the seed coat on both crops.”
Some of the later planted crops just are not going to reach maturity now that the frost has set in. Lower test weights and lower quality may be expected as growers move into the later maturing fields.
“Across the broad area of Minnesota, it's still very much worth cutting and harvesting, however, expectations have to be set accordingly,” Leetch said. “It's not going to be the yield or the quality that the Minnesota grower would normally be producing and expecting.”