Tim Unruh The Salina Journal
As leaves fall, some stubborn milo plants are falling over as farmers wait for their grain to dry.
Harvest revved up in these parts Monday, but Tuesday's moisture brought operations to a halt.
"If it's going to do this, I'd like to have a nice rain," said Joe Kejr, who farms in the Salina area, where rain totals reached a quarter-inch Tuesday.
While fall returns are days or weeks from being complete, the overall so far is at least decent, according to Tom Maxwell, of Salina, the agricultural Extension agent for Saline and Ottawa counties.
"There is still a lot of milo to cut," he said, and a considerable amount of double-crop soybeans is still in the field. Those beans were planted in wheat fields after that grain was harvested in the summer.
Among the banes to the milo has been a relatively mild fall. A frost arrived within a couple of days after the normal arrival date of Oct. 15, but the temperatures didn't dip low enough to kill the entire milo plant. A hard freeze -- say, in the low 20s -- is sometimes needed for combines to roll.
"The dry-down has been slow," Kejr said. "Finally (on Monday) we had the moisture down to a more reasonable level."
Maxwell figures more than half of the milo crop is waiting to dry to 16 percent moisture or less. The moisture level of Kejr's milo has been hovering from the high 17s to 19.
Stalk rot is an issue.
"We've got some milo going down from stress late in the season," Maxwell said. "In some cases, (harvest crews) have to go in with their headers on the ground to pick up the downed grain heads."
Price discounts can mount at the grain elevators when moisture is much above 15 percent, he said.
But generally, progress is normal at this point, said Steve Clanton, who farms near Minneapolis in Ottawa County.
"We finally got the beans done and we're started on milo," he said.
His soybean yields were "slightly above average" in yield, in the range of 37 bushels to the acre.
Of the milo he's harvested, Clanton guesses the yield is around 100 bushels to the acre.
But the days are getting shorter, providing less time for the sun to do its work.
"What scares you is, by the time you get to Thanksgiving, the drying part of the days is so short that it's even harder to get it to dry down," Kejr said.
Corn harvest is essentially complete, Maxwell said, and it was "better than last year," with yields ranging from 80 to 120 bushels to the acre.
"There are some pretty pleasant yield reports coming in on dryland corn, but some of it was chopped and put in the silo," he said.
Soybean yields, so far, have varied from the middle 20s to near 70 bushels to the acre, with yields from 30 to 50 being the average.
"With prices where they're at, $12 soybeans is certainly in the profitable range," Maxwell said.
Soybeans closed at $12.25 a bushel Tuesday at Cargill Ag Horizons, 1112 N. Halstead, down 5 cents from Monday, while wheat was at $7.02 a bushel, down 7 cents; milo was at $4.30 and corn at $4.25, each down a penny a bushel.
Kejr said he expects a price rebound through the winter for commodities, but nothing is for sure. Corn and milo have lost $2.50 to $3 a bushel in value during the past year.
"That part's a little scary to know what these markets are going to do," he said.