Most Iowa farmers who are harvesting their crops are thankful for the dry weather, but it’s actually a little too dry for soybeans. Randy Henkes is working on 2,000 acres of ground near Walford, just north of the Amana Colonies. Henkes says moisture is a good thing for beans because it makes them weigh more, so the price is better.
“We’ve stopped harvesting beans,” Henkes says. “We’re gonna’ pray for rain. If we don’t get rain in a week or couple of weeks, we’ll go back. We’re just rolling the dice. Our corn has obviously dried out. It’s dropped five points in the last week. The first corn we combined was probably 20%, our wettest corn now is probably 17.”
Hankes says moisture in corn is not a benefit because it costs money to have it dried before it can be stored. This week’s U.S.D.A. crop report shows the Iowa harvest continues to be a least a week and a half ahead of normal.
The early harvest time is impacting the ability of Mississippi River barges to keep up with the quick pace. Bill Skayhill farms a little more than 200 acres near Peosta, and is experiencing delays with his trucker who’s having to wait in line as long as two hours to unload.
“They’re filling contracts that start at the end of October and all the semis are lined up down at the river, that’s what he told me when he brought the empty one back,” Skayhill said. The harvests of corn and beans generally have enough time between them to not cause such a strain on the transport system.
Now Skayhill and others are caught up in the process of waiting to get their truckloads of crops into the system. “Hopefully he’ll be able to get more in there,” Skayhill says.
The problem is on the land side, not the river. The barge traffic is not affected by low water levels, because a system of locks and dams allows officials to control water depth. That allows fully loaded barges and towboats to travel smoothly to ports farther south where the grain is transferred to other facilities.