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#Harvest15 Iowa: Behind Average Pace, Stalk Rot Issues

Corn harvest is off to slow start in Iowa. According to the USDA NASS Crop Progress report for the week ending October 4, only 13% of corn harvest is complete, trailing the five-year average of 24%.

More combines were put to work cutting beans last week, pushing soybean harvest to 32% complete, which is pretty close to the 35% five-year average.

Average to above-average yields
Overall yields for corn and soybeans are looking better than last year, according to growers.

Bill Talsma from I-80 Farms in Colfax, Iowa, says soybeans are averaging close to 65 bushels per acre, and corn is coming in at 237 bushels per acre, slightly above his average. Talsma has 20% of corn harvest completed and 50% of soybeans.

Corn yields are also above 200 bushels per acre on Roger Wacha’s farm in Toledo, although soybeans aren’t as strong as past years at 50 to 64 bushels per acre. A quarter of Wacha’s soybean and corn acres are harvested.

Soybeans are yielding higher on Charlie Scott’s farm in Marengo, ranging from the mid-50s up to the high 60s. Scott has 64% of soybeans harvested and will start on corn harvest later this week. “Corn is looking good right now,” he says. “However, we’ve had more diseases in the corn this year, so stalk rot and down corn will be an issue.”

Disease and weed challenges
Talsma and Wacha are also having issues with stalk rot.

“The stalk quality is horrible,” says Talsma. “A week ago we had a wind that went through and knocked down some corn. We already put a reel on one corn head.”

Wacha’s harvested a few cornfields with stalks that were bent over below the ears. “We are going after corn hard, because one good wind and it won’t be standing anymore,” he says. "If there’s a 50 to 60 mph wind, you might as well not get out of bed the next day."

The extra moisture this growing season has also led to a spike in weeds. On Wacha’s farm he’s had issues with lambsquarter. Scott has seen a huge spike in waterhemp. “Waterhemp is 10 times worse this year than it normally is because we’ve had so much rain,” he says. 

Selling and storing the new crop
All three Iowa growers take a different approach to marketing their grain. Scott has half of his corn and soybeans sold. The other half will be split between on-farm storage and a local elevator.

Talsma has 30% of beans sold, 40% of corn sold, and put options on the rest of his grain. He’s hauling some grain to the Cargill processor in Eddyville, Iowa, where lines have been long. The rest goes into his grain bins.

Wacha hasn’t sold any of his 2015 crop – he’s waiting for prices to go higher. All of his corn and soybeans will go into storage on his farm.

A recent poll on Agriculture.com shows Wacha is not alone in not selling his new-crop corn. According to the poll, 53% of farmers will sell 25% or less of their new-crop corn this fall, 16% will sell between 25% to 50%, 10% will sell 50% to 100%, and 21% of farmers will sell all of their corn this fall.

Editor's note: Charlie Scott is the father of Jessie Scott, author of this article.

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