Mapping Out a Wet, Windy Week of Iowa Harvest

This week has been wet and windy for many Iowa farmers as they fight to make progress harvesting their corn and soybean crops.

Continued precipitation is stalling progress, especially in north-central counties. Franklin County has recorded more than 2 inches of precipitation so far this week.

Angie Rieck-Hinz is an Iowa State University Extension field agronomist for Calhoun, Cerro Gordo, Franklin, Hamilton, Humboldt, Webster, Worth, and Wright counties.

It was alreay too wet to harvest in many of her counties to start the week, and the additional rain hasn’t helped matters. Thursday morning, she saw standing water in several fields along her 50-mile commute.

“It will be the middle of next week before farmers are back in the field in the Clarion area,” she says. “You can see that with how much water is standing.”

While Hampton and Iowa Falls are also wet, a few communities, including Rockwell City, aren’t as soggy. Hintz is hopeful that farmers there will be able to get in the field there sooner.

Map of Iowa precipitation total October 20-23, 2019
Iowa Environmental Mesonet

Like much of the Hawkeye state, Hinz’s territory has also experienced strong winds this week. “I’m surprised to see a lot of corn still standing with the winds,” she says.

Sunday started the windy week with gusts up to 44 mph around Clay County in the northwest part of the state.

Map of peak wind speeds in Iowa on October 20, 2019
Iowa Environmental Mesonet

Winds continued into Monday. Speeds from 30 to 60 mph were seen across the Hawkeye state.

Map of peak wind speeds in Iowa on October 21, 2019
Iowa Environmental Mesonet

Tuesday was also gusty in many areas, with speeds ranging from 30 to 52 mph.

Map of peak wind speeds in Iowa on October 22, 2019
Iowa Environmental Mesonet

Nate Legler: Kossuth, Humboldt, Wright, Hancock Counties

Nate Legler farms corn and soybeans with his family where Kossuth, Humboldt, Wright, and Hancock counties meet. For several days this week, winds were 40 to 50 mph on his farm, according to Iowa Environmental Mesonet maps.

“There’s some down corn, but nothing extreme, thankfully,” he says. “We have tops broken off above the ear.”

The wet weather is also a concern for Legler. “We haven’t turned a wheel since Sunday night. A few guys ran Wednesday before the rain happened, but we will be out until Saturday at the earliest,” he predicts.

He adds, “Wind is the main concern because we can always get it if the ground freezes... as long as it’s still standing.”

With cool temperatures and moisture in the air, the corn isn’t drying out like he’d hope either. The driest corn Legler has harvested is 22% moisture. “We’re set up to dry, but it will be slow,” he says.

Laura Cunningham: Floyd County

Farther east, Laura Cunningham farms with her family outside Nora Springs, Iowa, in Floyd County. They pushed hard to get their soybean harvest done before the end of last week brought rain. They are happy with the yields they saw considering the challenges a dry August and wet September brought to the maturing crop.

On their farm, rain totals over the weekend were lower than surrounding counties, so the family was able to begin the week with a little silage chopping on Sunday. It’s unusal to still be chopping silage at the end of October, but late-planted silage corn pushed back chopping more than a month for the Cunninghams. “It’s so strange for us to go from the cab of the combine to the cab of the silage chopper all in one weekend, but that seems to be the theme of 2019,” she says.

The following days brought more than 2 inches of rain and a few snowflakes. However, the moisture soaked into the soil quickly, and Cunningham is preparing to start harvesting grain corn Friday. She’s optimistic they’ll be able to finish silage chopping by the end of the week as well.

Chad Ingels: Fayette County

On the eastern side of the state, Chad Ingels farms corn and soybeans in Fayette County near Randalia, Iowa. Before the rains came this week he was able to harvest about 30% of his beans. “Until the rain, we were seeing average yield, maybe a little better than I had thought,” he says

Ingels estimates his farm has had between 1.5 and 2 inches of rain this week. He’s thankful the area was “in good shape before the rain, so when it came it could soak in.”

He hopes to be in the field to start corn harvest Thursday or Friday, and is optimistic about the more favorable weather forecast for the next few days.

Although the rain has put harvest on hold for now, Ingels sees a silver lining. “This has been exceptional weather to start cover crops,” he explains. This is the sixth fall Ingels has seeded cover crops. Now, five weeks after he aerial seeded rye into his standing corn, it is bright green and well established.

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