Farmers frustrated at late, wet harvest

Fields are sopping wet and farmers are concerned about getting their crops out.

We got the facts on this year's harvest for Adams, Hancock and Lewis counties for this KHQA FactFinder report.

In an average year, 95 percent of soybeans would be harvested by this time. This year, it's less than half - only 38 percent of soybeans have been picked.

That's not the worst.

Normally, 80 percent of the corn harvest would be done right now. This year, that's down to just 15 percent.

These numbers hold true across most of the midwest. Even some of the grain that *has* been harvested isn't worth as much.

Quincy farmer Dennis Dempsey would like to be in his combine right now, wrapping up his harvest. But with all the wet weather this year, he's not even half done.

Dempsey said, "It's been one of the most difficult years I've seen in a long time. It's getting really tough just sitting. We're wanting to be out in the fields running hard. The weather won't cooperate and let us work."

If things do dry up, Dempsey says he'll be in the field until at least Thanksgiving. He knows other farmers who aren't so fortunate. Some haven't even started because fields are just too wet.

In farming, time is money. The longer these crops stay in the field, the greater the chances the grain could disintegrate or mold, causing crop loss. Another problem-- the rainy weather isn't allowing crops to dry out properly. And that means loads of wet grain are worth less.

What does this do to your pocketbook?

Dempsey said, "It's costing us money."

Harvesting wet corn like this also is posing problems for grain elevators like Ursa Farmers Co-op.

Ursa Farmers Co-op General Manager Gerald Jenkins told KHQA wet conditions cause more debris like these broken corn cobs and husks to get into the loads and damages the corn kernels -- making loads like this harder to sell.

Jenkins said, "We're challenged in being able to but a commodity in corn in general that's high in moisture and we have to recondition it before we can turn it around, put it on a barge and sell it to the export market."

As for Dempsey, he's doing his best to maximize his income. He's spending the extra money now to dry his hopefully get a better price at market later.

This wet, late harvest poses other problems when it's time to sell the grain.

Normally, elevators like Ursa Farmers Co-op sell more of its harvest by loading barges to send downstream for international export. But barges won't accept corn that's too wet. And with farmers expected to harvest until Thanksgiving or later this year, freezing weather could stall river traffic.

General Manager Gerald Jenkins said, "In most years in December, we lose the river. So if we have a cold streak in November and early December, we could lose the availability to load the grain farmers want to haul in and make space to complete their harvest."

Some local elevators and commodity businesses have asked the U-S Army Corps of Engineers to hold off on lock-and-dam maintenance and closures until the harvest is over. We know that one such closure on the Mississippi River *has* been put on hold until January.

This is the end of a pretty tough year for farmers. A wet spring pushed planting into June. Farmers have been behind schedule ever since.