Corn harvest off to good start

Corn in the Chester area was roughly 20 percent harvested last week, and soybeans were at 80 percent finished. 

Normally, the area would be further on the soybean harvest, however, spring rains and hail caused late plantings and re-planting, but not as much as in other areas, such as from Hastings to Red Cloud. 

Location manager for AGP, Keith Wilt, has returned to the Chester elevator after two years of working in Hastings. Wilt is a longtime area manager and came back to Chester after Roger Rumsey retired.

Now that he has returned, Wilt is watching the markets with the understanding factors are playing against the numbers, such as the trickle down waivers on ethanol. 

“A lot of ethanol plants have closed in the US and it’s hurting corn,” he said. 

The plants lose less money if they close, he added.  

The waivers are granted by the Environmental Protection Agency, but Wilt wonders even if the EPA stops granting the waivers now, how long it would take to recover once the plants reopened.

“My understanding is there is word out of the White House to put pressure on the EPA,” Wilt said. “I understand their purpose (the EPA), but just like anything else, are they going overboard?” 

The plethora of EPA restrictions have and do negatively affect the farm economy. In the end, the restrictions cost farmers money. 

Again, Wilt wonders how many EPA officials are sitting behind a desk making regulations when they’ve never stepped foot on a farm. 

“You don’t always have the right people in the right places,” he said.  

Likewise, bean sales to China are down because of the tariff disagreement. 

Wilt said the tariffs are hurting farmers, whether it be in livestock or grains. He said he also knows  the president must have leverage. 

“You’re darned if you do and darned if you don’t. You’ll spin your wheels if you don’t have leverage. It has hurt quite a bit,” he said. 

As of Monday, congress had not passed the USMCA trade deal between the US, Mexico and Canada, and has given no indication it will.

Back on the ground, Chester farmers were pleased with their dryland bean yields, and irrigated yields were coming in at average. In some cases, dryland performed better than irrigated. Dry or irrigated, corn looked to bring a good average.

Matt Weber at Norder Supply in Bruning said farmers were close to finishing up the soybean harvest and corn was off to a good start. He was looking ahead to the small chances of moisture last weekend and the beginning of this week. 

“I think we’re behind from other years, but things have dried out a bit more. Yields are tracking to average to slightly below average in some cases,” Weber said.

Numbers from the United States Department of Agriculture may be too optimistic.

“Sometimes, they do a fairly good job, but right now, they’re a little more bullish than what we’re dealing with,” Weber said. 

One more factor people might not think about at harvest time is hazardous driving. 

Wilt referenced the fatal accident of the 31-year-old mother who recently ran into the back of a straight truck on Highway 74, and died. Her two-year-old child was also in the vehicle and was back home last week.  

“My oldest daughter went to school with her,” Wilt said. “The biggest thing is slow moving vehicles and big trucks on the roads and on the paved highways.”

Thayer County Sheriff David Lee said one of his deputies was out serving papers and commented on how he met trucks in clouds of dust because it was so dry out. 

“Let the dust settle and use extra caution,” Lee said. Drivers should also watch for wet weather because trucks may have to load on the roads to avoid mud. 

“Quite honestly, patience and understanding will ensure the farmers a safe harvest,” Lee said. “They have to get their crops out and we’ll all get through it if we work together.”