County farmers giving thanks for ‘surprising’ harvest this year

Huntington County farmer Tim Burnau combines his corn crop Friday, Nov. 17, along CR900N. Burnau plans to have the remainder of his crop harvested in time for Thanksgiving dinner today, weather permitting.
Huntington County farmer Tim Burnau combines his corn crop Friday, Nov. 17, along CR900N. Burnau plans to have the remainder of his crop harvested in time for Thanksgiving dinner today, weather permitting. Photo by Scott Trauner..

Originally published Nov. 23, 2017.

With about 85 percent of Huntington County’s crops collected and in storage, local farmers are giving thanks today for what has been called a “surprising” harvest this year.
Relentless spring rains flooded fields, forcing some farmers to plant multiple times before their seedlings could germinate or stay in place.

Others who waited to plant have had to wait to harvest, says Ed Farris, agriculture and natural resource educator at the Purdue Extension-Huntington County Office.

“They replanted both corn and soybeans, and with the way the rains came early in the season, in May, sometimes they planted the same field three times. That presented some challenges,” Farris says.

“One farmer I talked to, he didn’t really start planting until early June because he didn’t want to take the risk with all the rains. He didn’t have to do as much replanting because he waited.”

Nevertheless, there are good yield reports this harvest season. Some corn yields came in, on average, at more than 200 bushels per acre, Farris says. But he notes that other farms in the county came in below average because they suffered wet fields.

“We did have some dry weather, too, that did affect pollination in some cases,” he says.

Moderate temperatures in August seemed to help, he says.

“I think the farmers weren’t expecting yields to be as good as they are,” Farris says. “I’ve heard some soybean yields were more than 60 bushel an acre, which is really good.”

Excess rain this year was still better than none at all. Farris remembers the 2012 planting season, which featured both extremely dry and extremely hot weather, negatively affecting local yields.

“There’s an old saying that ‘rain brings grain,’” he adds. “The markets always respond to that. If they hear it’s raining in Iowa, the money markets rally.”

Crop prices are holding, too, Farris says, although he describes them as “not great right now,” and farmers aren’t making a lot of money from selling their grain.

Jim Carl, who farms about four miles south of Huntington, grew wheat, field corn, popcorn and soybeans this year. He and his family will spend Thanksgiving knowing that all their crops have been harvested.

Carl planted his beans the first of June, and they didn’t do too badly, he says.

“The corn, we planted it in April, and tore it all up, and we planted it again in May,” he recalls. “In June it rained and got cold again with a whole bunch of rain. We replanted the holes in June.

“When you go out and plant holes in there like that, if they’re flood holes they’re not square, so you don’t get the rows straight, so when you’re harvesting, it’s hard to see where your rows are at because you’ve got three different plants out there.”

On his farm, the spring rains also made for a later harvest this fall. The June planting didn’t mature as fast as usually happens in an ideal growing year. But Carl, who also raises hogs and cattle, says next year looks good — right now.

“You do stuff, and just because you did it last year and it worked last year doesn’t mean it works this year, because the weather doesn’t always cooperate, and it doesn’t do the same stuff,” he muses. “Right now, next year looks really good — I’m ready for next year.”

Just north of Huntington, Tim Burnau is finishing up his harvest and plans to have it all done by today so he can relax on Thanksgiving with his family.

“Right now it’s getting with the family and relaxing and enjoying Thanksgiving and giving a special blessing for everything that we have,” he says.

Burnau grew corn and beans this year, harvesting later than usual because spring rains kept him from getting into his fields to plant.
“It wasn’t bad,” he says. “With us getting things planted late, it made for a later fall harvest because we had all that rain in May and June. That put us behind.”

The quality of crops suffered as well, Burnau says.

“We had a lot of drowned-out areas. We replanted and they still drowned out. It probably affected 10 percent,” he says. “There’s nothing there.”

Burnau is also hoping for better — rather, ideal, he says — growing conditions for next year.

“It all depends on Mother Nature,” he adds.