Dry weather translates to smooth harvests

It’s amazing how fast a crop can be harvested with good weather. When I last wrote for the Tribune about a month ago, soybean harvest had not yet started because the crop wasn’t ready. That quickly changed toward the end of September, and despite a few wet spells, the weather really was perfect for harvest. No rain, low humidity and a good breeze to get the soybeans dried down.

Here we are in the third week of October, and the beans are mostly finished, and I’m hearing good yields, too. There are a few double crop fields out there waiting to be harvested, but even our wetter fields were dry enough to harvest this year.

The dry harvest weather has been a nice change of pace compared to our wet falls of 2018 and 2019 where the harvest season dragged on for months. Beans will soak up moisture each morning from the dew, and if it rains the moisture will go even higher. A moisture of 15% or less is preferable for beans, as they will store better, maintain quality, and will not need any additional drying which is expensive. With our wetter pattern coming in this week, we can count our blessings on the dry days we had.

With beans done, we will quickly be shifting our focus to corn harvest. Dry weather is still preferable for corn, but the corn kernels do not take up moisture the way soybeans will. As long as the corn stalks aren’t too wet and the moisture below 20%, corn will likely be harvested. Moisture at harvest is a little more complicated for corn. If the corn is too dry, you will get ear shattering in the head and lose yield, and if it is too wet it will cost more to dry to get to the 15% for storage.

I have heard current moisture levels up to 30% for corn in Trumbull County. Wet corn, or corn that is not drying down fast enough, is a concern this year due to our drier weather in the summer that could have delayed kernel development. Grain that is at physiological maturity will dry faster than developing grain, so if kernels were delayed this summer and continued to mature into September, the grain will still be wet. Couple that with our hard freeze last week, and any corn that was still developing or maturing likely stopped further delaying corn dry down. On the upside, propane prices are down to keep drying costs low.

Corn harvest can include some cold mornings, and this year I will be offering Corn Harvest Coffee — coffee delivered to your combine. You read that right, I will bring coffee to you, free of charge, to help you along with your harvest. If you, or someone you know, would like a delivery call our office at 330-638-6783 with a time and location. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for updates on days that coffee will be available, and you can even send a request through Facebook messenger. While I am there, I will be happy to talk about your growing season and try to answer any questions that you may have.

As always, OSU Extension Trumbull County is still here to serve you during the pandemic. If you have questions about soil testing, plant disease, farm bill, or generally anything about agriculture give us a call. We are working remotely to answer your calls, but our office is open on Monday and Thursday from 8:30-4:30 if you need to drop off samples, buy soil test kits, or say hello. We hope you all stay safe and healthy.

Submitted by Lee Beers, OSU Extension Educator, who can be reached by email or by phone at 330-638-6738


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