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Midwest Harvest Report: Illinois, Iowa & Missouri nearly done, Wisconsin lags

Farmer in front of combine inspecting his soybean crop

It’s not nearly as serious as what Texas is suffering through, but drought in the Midwest remains moderate to severe, and corn yields are lower. The lack of moisture isn’t critical yet, but it’s getting there, says guest blogger Terry Snack, the Case IH combine product specialist for Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin.  Born and raised on a farm in east central Illinois, Snack went to work for International Harvester at about the same time the first Axial-Flow combine was introduced 35 years ago. In his three-plus decades with the company, Snack still “lives and breathes” combines.   

Illinois, Iowa and Missouri are between 75 – 85 percent finished with corn harvest. Wisconsin was wet early and got a late start, so it’s lagging behind a bit, at about 38 percent harvested.

On the bean side, Illinois and Iowa are pretty much done.  Missouri and Wisconsin are about 75 percent done.  We’ve got about two weeks of harvest left.

We had a 10-day run of good weather – warm, sunny and breezy – that was ideal for harvest.  Of course, it was also ideal for dust accumulation. So I’ve been on my guys to blow out their combines every day to eliminate tinder. The drought here doesn’t compare to what Texas is facing, but we’re still pretty dry, from 4 to 6 inches behind average rainfall.

If you talked to my farmers in June, they’d have probably predicted 200 bushels per acre.  We thought we had a record corn crop in the making.  By early August, that was down to 130 bushels. We had a week of really hot weather and it hurt pollination.  The weather was actually cooking the pollen – you can see where the ears aren’t fully developed.

Especially for the guys who had corn on corn, between the heavy residue and dry conditions, they didn’t have the reserve water. So corn on corn didn’t yield as well as the traditional corn following beans.  But corn quality has been good. Test weights have been surprisingly good – we’ve seen at lot of 59- and 60-lb. test weights.

Beans yields have been excellent at 65 to 70 bushels per acre. The quality has been good too, although they’re a little smaller, maybe about 3,000 beans per pound vs. 2,800 in a normal year.

A severe windstorm in August posed challenges, flattening several thousand corn acres in eastern Iowa, southwestern Wisconsin and northwestern Illinois. Getting underneath it and sliding it up into the corn head has slowed harvest.  Corn that was sprayed with a fungicide and stayed green early was a challenge, too.

Unusual crop conditions led to a few MOG (material other than grain) issues with the Case IH 3412 corn headers, but it’s just a matter of setting it up correctly.  Proper set up is key to the new 3020 bean heads, too. One farmer in Georgetown emailed to say, “I have never had a better experience than I’ve had today operating my 5088 combine and 3020 platform after completing 100 acres.”

Another combine operator from Sidell was running a new 2162 draper head, and shared: “If anyone questions the extra performance of a draper head, have them give me a call.”

Over all, I’ve been getting great feedback on quality, performance and reliability of the Axial-Flow combines.  I’m also excited to get in the field with our new 30 Series combines in 2012. Their extra features, overall productivity and fuel savings from the Tier 4 SCR technology should be a real bonus for farmers.

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