By Dennis Minich
Normally by this time of year, most area farmers would have their annual crops harvested and doing fall preparations for next year’s planting. But 2019 has been anything but normal and a lot of work remains on this year’s harvest before even considering next year.
The story of the year has been rain, which has affected virtually every phase of this year’s growing season.
“Its been rain and the number of days of rain and the flooding,” Ron Highley, the county executive director of the Farm Service Agency said.
“I have records back to 1971 and there was one year in the mid-80s when we got 57 inches of rain. This year we are at 54 inches so if we just have normal rainfall the rest of the year, we are going to break the record.”
Rain delayed planting, then flooding caused many farmers to have to replant. With the late planting comes late harvesting so the cycle continues. And every phase has had an impact on the market.
“The corn harvest is only about half done. We should be wrapping up by now,” Highley said.
“Many farmers had to replant which is why it is so late.
When they had to replant, it added to their costs, not double but probably half or two thirds again the cost.”
Highley noted that yields are coming in below expectations as well.
The word on soybeans is not much better. Under 10 percent of the crop has been harvested. Last weekend’s frost will have an impact as well.
“Most of the corn was mature enough it was not affected. But there are a lot of soybeans that have been damaged,” he said.
If there is any good news, it is prices are slightly higher than had been projected early in the year. Corn is selling for $3.72 a bushel, soybeans $8.46 and wheat $4.83.
While those prices are about 25 percent higher than projections, they are far short of what would be consideredprofitable.
Highley said ideally, corn would be around $4.50 to $5, soybeans in the $10 to $11 range and wheat around $6 to $7.
The crop prices are exceeding early expectations for two reasons, he said.
“They were expecting a big crop and that didn’t happen and a trade deal was made with China last week which has helped the market a lot,” said Highley.
He noted the current prices are probably about the break-even point so crop insurance was critical. He said likely most farmers are looking ahead.
“I think most farmers are ready to celebrate,” he said.
“Its been a tough year with rain, flooding, replanting and low prices.
“I think they want to celebrate it is over and get ready for next year, hoping things are more normal.”
Highley noted there will meetings about the farm bill in November or December.