Edgar County farmers are finally getting started with harvest.
Scott Hogan was cutting beans Wednesday, Oct. 2, in a field north of Paris. His harvest efforts started Sept. 27, which he said is about two weeks later than 2018.
Not all parts of every field are ready to harvest. Some fields have swaths of cut beans around patches where the plants are still maturing.
“That’s because guys had to replant,” said Hogan. “The stuff that went in around July 4 is not ready. I’ve got a couple of fields like that. “
A cold wet spring not only kept farmers out of their fields, but heavy rains after some planting was done resulted in ponding of water in fields, which drowned young seedling or prevented germination.
The late planting raised concerns about yields early in the growing season. Those concerns seem to be playing out as the harvest starts.
“We are not seeing yields like last year, but it’s still pretty good,” said Hogan, regarding the bean field he was harvesting Wednesday. “At least on beans, I have no idea on corn.”
Hogan has not started shelling corn since he prefers to get beans out of the way first.
“I like to do these (soybeans) when the weather is good because they are more difficult,” he said.
Smaller yield and delayed harvest is not the only issue causing headaches for farmers. Commodity prices remain low despite the anticipated smaller harvest.
Hogan explained the big 2018 harvest drove prices down, but there was a temporary bump as the delayed planting season dragged on. Some reports after planting finished were a bit more optimistic than prior projections and the markets reacted by cutting prices.
“Prices went down in July so they are depressed again,” said Hogan.
He added the ongoing trade war with China is another unsettling factor in the commodity market.
The beans he was harvesting earlier in the week were going into on farm storage bins for sale at a later date.
“The rest we hauled to Oakland and Horace,” he said.
Another complication, in a year full of complications, goes beyond reduced yield per acre to include ground that did not get planted because of weather delays.
According to the United State Department of Agriculture, Edgar County did not have any prevented planted acres in 2018. For 2019, Edgar, Coles and Douglas counties seem to be sitting in a sweet spot as these locations had 671, 396 and 324 prevented planted acres respectively. Our other neighboring counties are not as well off: Clark, 7,451 acres; Champaign, 4,206 acres; and Vermilion, 8,472 acres not planted.
The loss in Clark, Champaign and Vermilion counties pales when compared to the hardest hit Bureau County with 69,161 prevented planted acres. Kankakee County recorded 55,878 prevented planted acres.
Illinois’ total prevented planted acres for 2019 topped 945,000 acres.