By Brian Voss, AEM Agricultural Services Manager

Harvest 2018This is the time of year when the air is crisp, fall foliage is at its peak, and harvest is in full swing.

Perhaps like you, I moonlight as a harvest helper. I fill in where needed, whether behind a steering wheel, or in the shop, or just filling up coffee thermoses for those burning the midnight oil.  

Harvest is a marathon. And just like if you’re running in one, you prepare well in advance and feel eager upon reaching the starting line. But by the time you see the payoff at the finish line, what you prepared for may not have come to fruition, thus forcing you to adapt and execute plans B, C and D.

Though, this year the old saying for spring “in like a lion and out like a lamb” really should be modified to “out like a duck” in my little slice of heaven in North Central Illinois. This fall started off early as expected, since most everything got in early this year with a good spring. The combines roared to life by mid-September, but it wasn’t long before those roars went silent. Fortunately, a good majority of soybeans got out prior to all rain we've been getting. It seems like every other day we are playing the game Battleship with Mother Nature, and so far she’s gotten more hits than misses.

In the “For what it’s worth” category, here are few takeaways from my Midwest point of view:

  • I know quite a few folks (along with ourselves) have been upgrading equipment. This is especially the case with grain carts and combines, with rear cameras for safety as we travel field to field with following distances from the general public becoming a greater challenge.
  • The ever-increasing conversation about cover crops continues. However, the return on investment (ROI) and termination challenges are an ongoing discussion. This year looked like it might be the year where our area saw more cover crops, especially since it looked like crops were going to get out early this year. But when push came to shove, those plans faded quickly as oversaturated soils and down commodity prices coupled with areas of stalk rot and down corn became the focus.
  • On a more positive note, there is a current infrastructure project in the works to bring a commodity rail line to the community, which would be huge for local farmers. It's an excellent marketing opportunity for their crops, and it will provide much-needed strength to their bottom lines.
  • Finally, the biggest concern besides getting corn and soybeans in the bin is what to do with them when they get there. It should come as no surprise that an abnormally high amount of soybeans are in storage with prices where they stand today. The uncertainty in the commodity market continues to be an ever-increasing challenge, as many folks are seeing above-average and even record yields. It may not be a quality price, but let’s hope quantity makes up for it.

As always, keep your eyes open for farm equipment, be patient, and stay safe on the roads.

For more old sayings or harvest insights, please feel free to reach out to me at bvoss@aem.org.

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