Local farmers still harvesting after rough year

Published: Jan. 13, 2020 at 5:52 PM CST
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Farmers around the Valley are still battling Mother Nature, as they continue to harvest the remainder of 2019's crops.

After a late start last spring and a sopping wet fall, USDA data says less than half of North Dakota corn has been harvested so far.

For one Davenport farmer, it feels like a never ending game of catch-up.

"To do the same job, everything takes longer when it's cold and snowy. Everything just takes more fuel, grease, propane, everything!" Brady Kellerman said.

Usually by now, most farmers are out of the fields and preparing for next year. However, back-to-back years of wet falls with early snow stopped farmers' plans in their tracks.

"We thought, 'Well, we won't get that two years in a row.' Well, this year we got it even worse. It's not ideal," Kellerman said.

Kellerman says with 17 to 20 inches of snow throughout the fields, and some spots with even larger drifts, he won't be able to salvage everything.

"We might be able to recover some of that in the spring, but it's nowhere near what was there," Kellerman said.

Kellerman also says for the most part Mother Nature hasn't really impacted the quality of the corn, but says the grain still ends up spending around 11 hours drying out until it's ready to be sold or stored.

"I'm constantly waiting for the grain dryer to catch up," he said.

Experts say snow isn't alarming for crop quality until it becomes so heavy it knocks down the stalks or soaks everything.

Kellerman says he harvests 40-50 acres less than he would on a normal fall day, as the cold and snow makes it harder, slower and more expensive to work.

"You've gotta take all the equipment back to the yard or back to a place where you can plug it all in every night, and that takes road time. Then you're always freezing stuff up whether it's augers, or equipment, combine, tracks on the grain cart," Kellerman said.

Kellerman says he's about two-thirds of the way done with harvesting what's left in his fields. However, he says there's a good chance some farmers won't be so lucky and might not be able to get into the field until late spring or summer.

But he says farmers just have to keep on, and hopes the new year brings a dry and warm March and April.

"If we have a wet spring it's gonna be ugly," Kellerman said.

The USDA says at this time last year over 90% percent of farmers were done harvesting their crops.

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