| HARVEST TIME – Jon Ed Powers and his crew on Powers Farms in rural Weakley County have put in many days and nights bringing grain to the market as corn producers and equipment have flooded the fields the past two weeks getting a jump on the earlier than typical corn harvest. |
Local farmers have been busy the last two weeks getting their grain to market, and that schedule is earlier than usual.
“Corn harvests are moving right along at a rapid pace due to the extreme heat during the growing season,” Weakley County Ag Extension Agent Jeff Lannom explained.
“This is one of the earlier harvests that I can remember for our area,” Lannom added.
Farmers took advantage of prime planting conditions in early spring, but Mother Nature was not so forgiving when she flooded much of the lower county farmlands in Weakley County in May.
“Normally, corn producers begin harvesting in September. With the wet May and dry, hot summer, the corn plants matured earlier than normal. The lack of rainfall and high daytime as well nighttime temperatures created the need to harvest sooner,” Lannom explained.
Thus far, with more than 40 percent of the corn harvested, the average bushel range per acre of grain is from 70 to 170 bushels.
“Some areas are below what we normally have for the county. Typically, we average 130 bushels per acre. That’s across the county. We should know within the next few weeks once the corn harvesting is complete,” Lannom added.
The ag extension agent said growing conditions were less optimal compared to last year, as this summer remained dry and hot. He said the northern half of the county – west of Martin to north of Martin, and east of Dresden – experienced drier conditions than other parts of the county.
Until the last three weeks, parts of Palmersville, Sharon, Sidonia and Greenfield experienced better growing conditions.
“Soybeans are the crops that are suffering right now. Three weeks ago, when the weather was hot and dry, the beans were at a critical pod field stage. Some plants have already moved toward maturity. That’s at least a good month earlier than normal. Those that were planted later, obviously will mature later. Those crops could benefit from a good rain right now,” Lannom said.
Soybeans in Weakley County typically come to harvest around the latter part of September, according to the ag extension agent. As plants begin to mature and die before expected, the result is smaller seed size or fewer seed per pod.
The end result to the producer is a lower yield which means lower income.
With growing conditions not so prime for producers, the prices seem just right, according to John Pritchett of Southern Milling in Martin.
“I personally don’t ask producers how yields are going. From a personal survey, we’re seeing from 130 to 170 bushels per acre. That is better than we expected,” Pritchett noted.
Once a producer carries his grain to the mill, he/she has several options.
“Their first choice is they can sell the grain to me. Right now the price of corn is $4-plus or minus 10 cents and soybeans are $10-plus or minus 10 cents,” Pritchett said.
Producers can also store their grain at Southern Milling, while the company carries the insurance and bring it to market at a later date.
“Something that is good for producers right now that we didn’t see 10 years ago is the market for corn with ethanol,” Pritchett added.
Each growing season brings with it new challenges for agricultural producers. Time will tell how Weakley County fared overall with the production of grain as the corn harvesting comes to a close to make way for soybean harvests.
Lannom did urge caution to local motorists to be mindful of ag equipment heading to and from fields this time of year.