Machinery Chatter
Russ Quinn DTN Staff Reporter

Thursday 09/06/12

Different Vibe at 2012 Farm Progress Show

One of the perks to my job is attending farm equipment shows. To most folks this may seem like a chore -- traveling to the show and walking and walking and then even more walking. But to an admitted farm equipment junkie like myself, it is something to which I always look forward.

People take in the sights during the 2012 Farm Progress Show held near Boone Iowa Aug. 28-30. The severe drought gripping most of the country affected the mood of those attending the show. (DTN photo by Russ Quinn)

I have attended the Farm Progress Show on and off for roughly 10 years. I do appreciate the two, now permanent show sites after seeing heavy rains flood the show grounds in the past.

This year's show was a bit different than the past shows I have attended. Yes, there were still the biggest and brightest new equipment, which attracted thousands of people from all over the world, but the overall mood seemed, well, a bit muted.

I guess this is what happens when you attend a farm show during the midst of one of the worst droughts to grip the Corn Belt in decades. From talking to exhibitors and attending farmers, the mood could be summed up as: "Okay, let's get this harvest over with and move onto a hopefully better 2013 growing season."

Personally, I know the feeling.

The crops on my family's farm in eastern Nebraska have suffered through the hot and dry growing conditions this season. Fifty some odd days of no moisture from late June through mid-August mixed with many days above 100 degrees caused much crop damage, especially in corn.

Unlike past years when you really look forward to harvest because of the good yield prospects, this growing season's harvest just doesn't seem as exciting. Fewer truckloads of grain from the fields tend to dampen farmers' enthusiasm, I guess.

The other thing that was completely different about this Farm Progress Show was the harvesting of corn. I am not talking about at the show but on the many acres along US Highway 30 in western and central Iowa.

While there are farmers harvesting crops when I have traveled to Husker Harvest Days, which is held near Grand Island, Neb., in mid-September, I have never seen farmers harvesting corn traveling to the Farm Progress Show during the last week in August. Until this year.

There were several combines busy harvesting drought-damaged corn all across western and central Iowa last week. I can see why they were harvesting, there were many fields with spots where the stalks which were falling over.

While walking around the show grounds on Wednesday, I bumped into a farmer from west-central Iowa who I have interviewed in the past.

His growing season story was much like others in the Western Corn Belt. Good rains early, only to see the tap shut off and crops suffer extensively in the hot and dry conditions during July and August.

He had not harvested any of corn yet but thought he would begin this week. He said he did not know what to expect from his drought-damaged crops.

"I hear some farmers in our area say it was not as bad as they thought it was going to be, but then we also hear that it was worse," he said. "I guess we won't know for sure until we get out there with the combine."

On the bright side, he thought, the late August rains would help his region's soybean crop. On the not-so-bright side, this particular Iowa farmer had the majority of his acres planted to corn.

"I should have planted more soybeans I guess," he said wryly.


Posted at 9:51AM CDT 09/06/12 by Russ Quinn
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