Machinery Chatter
Russ Quinn DTN Staff Reporter

Thursday 11/01/12

Quinn Farm: 2012 Harvest Mercifully Completed

The 2012 harvest on my family's farm in eastern Nebraska is done and, as in many locations across the Corn Belt, yields were well below recent years. There was just too much heat and dryness (50-some days of no moisture from mid-June to mid-August) for the crops to handle this growing season.

Of course, this was not a major surprise as we started harvest. I had a pretty good idea yields were not going to be very good when our sweet corn yielded ears, but very few kernels, at midsummer. This was the first time I can ever remember our sweet corn crop being a complete failure.

We did have a field of corn yield about 100 bushels per acre. This farm has some nice soils and it must have caught a few more rains. But the other fields were more in that 40 to 75 bpa range. The one farm had 75 bpa on the opposite side where just a year ago we had produced 170 bpa corn.


The corn on the same farm also featured another 75 -- aflatoxin levels of 75 parts per billion (ppb). That first load of corn was rejected at the local ethanol plant and we had to find another elevator to take it.

Soybeans yields were also lower than in recent years.

Our beans ranged from about 25 to 33 bpa, which is not too bad considering the challenging growing conditions this year. Of course, looking back to last year, our best bean yield was right at 50 bpa.

Ouch again.

The other thing that was really different with this years' harvest was the varying yields from field to field. In most years our fields generally yield about the same. But not this year.

This was extremely obvious when we where harvesting corn. Normally we set the combine for corn and then just make some small adjustments during harvest.

This year it seems we were making pretty good-sized adjustments from field to field. We had it set for the first couple of fields and then we had to adjust again when we moved to the farm with the higher yield.

Then we harvested the final field, which was the field with the lowest yield. This field had considerably smaller ears so there was much cylinder/concave -- as well as sieve and chaffer screen -- adjustments to get all the corn we could from that drought-damaged field.

So the harvest equipment is packed away in the corner of the machine shed for another year. Post-harvest activities such as getting the cows out on the corn stalks and hauling hay are also already completed.

It is Halloween and just about all the fall chores are completed on the farm.

We still have to wean our spring calves, which will be happening in the coming weeks. And there are always be various other duties on the farm like fixing hay feeders, cutting scrub trees off terraces, etc. These we hope will be done over the winter months.

While I don't generally openly root for tough Nebraska winters with lots of snow, I think I may have to this year. Our lack of winter moisture last year was the beginning of the drought during the 2012 growing season.

So I issue a challenge to Mother Nature. Come on, lady, let's have it this winter!


Posted at 2:35PM CDT 11/01/12 by Russ Quinn
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