Report: Harvest lagging behind

Monday, November 13, 2006
Members of VFW Post 1550 hold their rifles prior to a 21-gun salute during Saturday's ceremony at the Putnam County Courthouse to honor all American veterans. VFW members participating were Dick Burkett, Bill Irwin, Bill Strahl, Roy Giesen, Ed Bruner, Ed Jones, Wayne Priest, John Hamilton, Dave Hellyer and Post Commander Steve McMains.

Repeated rain showers in the past several weeks have kept area fields wet, meaning farmers attempting to bring in the fall harvest have fallen significantly behind where they should be for this time of year.

The latest crop report from the USDA for Indiana says only 64 percent of corn crops have been harvested statewide, compared to 88 percent last year at this time.

Bringing it into perspective with past years, 98 percent of the corn had been harvested by this time in 2002.

The news, however, is quite a bit better for soybeans as 86 percent of those crops have been harvested now, compared to 96 percent last year at this time.

Regionally speaking, the USDA reports that 62 percent of the corn acreage has been harvested in the north, 60 percent in the central region and 73 percent in the south. Moisture content of harvested corn is averaging about 18 percent.

For soybeans, 89 percent of soybeans have been harvested in the north region, 90 percent in the central and 73 percent in the south. Moisture content on harvested soybeans is averaging about 13 percent.

It seems farmers may have a chance to get back in the field early this week with the National Weather Service forecasting cloudy to partly cloudy conditions with high temperatures today and Tuesday in the 40s and 50s.

However, rain and even some thunderstorms are in the forecast for Wednesday with a possible clearing by the weekend.

Despite recent rains that have kept local farmers from harvesting their remaining acres of corn and even a few soybean fields, news from the nation's capital on Thursday was much better.

Officials with the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced this week that market prices for both corn and soybeans are continuing to rise and are on track to reach perhaps record heights.

The soybean price forecast rose 50 cents from last month to $6.40 per bushel and is theorized to be the best ever. The corn price forecast rose 40 cents to $3.20 per bushel and is expected to be the second-best.

Better prices, combined with the nation's move toward ethanol, have some in the agriculture industry predicting that farmers will plant even more corn next year.

This is due to experts who are predicting that more than half of the nation's surplus corn supply will be used up in the production of ethanol, which means farmers will need to grow more corn to replenish the supply.

Putnam County could play a significant part in the country's move to ethanol with officials still promising the construction of an ethanol plant on 150 acres of land just north of Interstate 70 near Cloverdale.

That project, however, has changed hands several times since it was first announced in the spring of 2005 and officials have moved the projected completion date from this year to possibly 2008. Work is ongoing, though slow, at the site.

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