The 4-Hs of Harvest
Harvest is here following an incredibly dry summer for many areas of the Midwest.
One of the biggest hurdles of farming is the uncontrollable weather conditions – heat, frost, wind, drought, flooding, and more. Lower than expected yields may be a factor in some areas this fall due to the widespread drought. Hurricane Ida has also impacted some of the storage and exports of U.S. grain in Louisiana and Mississippi – making the entry into harvest an uncertain time.
Despite the odds and challenging conditions, producers are known for putting in long hours and getting the job done. For some, including ADM Grain Origination Specialist Kallie Schade, our guest on In the Driver’s Seat’s this month, her favorite parts of harvest are seeing the first loads come off the fields, the beautiful sunsets and crossing the finish line.
Born in Nebraska and now a resident of South Dakota, Kallie works with farmers on a daily basis and is married to one. While there are many H words that can be used to describe harvest and all that goes into it, she covered these four areas:
1) Homework: How Should Farmers Prepare for Harvest?
“A piece of homework that should be constant throughout the year is your grain marketing plan. You should have it to start each year and keep it somewhere where you can easily review it and know how your goals may need to change depending on market conditions,” says Kallie.
She recommends frequently reviewing your plan and discussing your goals with an ADM representative who you’re comfortable with and trust. She notes your ADM representative can provide guidance on your target prices and discuss the right tools that can help you execute your plan.
Furthermore, Kallie says your marketing plan doesn’t need to be overly complicated, but knowing these three aspects is important:
- Your breakeven prices
- Your insurance guarantees
- Estimate of bushels produced
Finally, if you have bushels that are beyond your current contracts and storage capacity coming into harvest, now is the time to reach out to your ADM representative to figure out an action plan.
2) Highs: What is the Best Part of Harvest?
During harvest, there can be a lot of stress and anxiety, knowing the days will be busy and long, but “it is exciting to see those first few loads come off the fields and to chat with farmers to hear how their crop has done. It’s basically their baby,” says Kallie.
Another positive experience during harvest for Kallie has been riding with her husband and little girl in the grain cart or combine – an experience she never had as a child.
For others, gathering out in the field for a few meals is a highlight. These meals are an opportunity for farmers to take a brief break, stay nourished and connect with family and community members. Previous guest Holly Spangler also talked about this tradition in her family.
Kallie talks about looking for the good in each day, such as the amazing South Dakota sunsets. But overall, she’s always eager to cross the finish line at the end.
3) Hurdles: What is a Major Barrier During Harvest?
“Unfortunately, in South Dakota, harvest might not be quite as exciting this year given our growing conditions,” says Kallie.
A major hurdle out of every farmer’s control is weather-related impact. South Dakota, like many other states, was hit especially hard by a lack of rain. As of early September, much of the state was still experiencing severe or extreme drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
As a result of this drought, a late August crop progress and condition report for South Dakota from the National Agricultural Statistics Service showed lackluster crop growth. See the data below:
In Central Minnesota and South Dakota, some farmers moved to baling dryland corn for cattle feed. This is a resourceful way to use dried out corn if the nutrition level is safe. The University of Minnesota Extension offers these tips before starting on corn silage:
- Pollination: If corn successfully pollinated and has developing kernels, it’s best to wait to allow more dry matter to accumulate.
- Moisture: If plant moisture is below 70%, it may be necessary to begin silage harvest, depending on how the silage will be stored.
- Leaf Tissue/Color: If leaf tissue has already turned brown, these leaves will no longer photosynthesize, even if rainfall is received. Green leaves that have rolled continue to photosynthesize.
- Pesticides: Check pesticide labels to ensure preharvest intervals are followed.
- Insurance: Check with your crop insurance agent before harvesting drought-stressed corn.
4) Humor: Do You Have any Funny Harvest Stories?
Ask any farmer and he or she will tell you that harvest is not the most fun time of the year. It is stressful, exhausting and the stakes are high.
Kallie echoes this sentiment but noted mistakes do happen. Farmers are human. She reflects on two incidents that happened while she was working at a local grain elevator. While certainly not funny at the time, she hopes years later, these farmers were able to chuckle…at least a little bit:
“A few years ago, while I was working in the scale room at the elevator, there was a truck rounding the corner to head to the outbound scale, but one set of tires kept going straight and rolled into the ditch. Uh-oh, I knew that wasn’t supposed to happen.”
“Another year, we had a custom combiner or harvester show up, and as he untarped his load in front of our probe – low and behold – there was no grain in his trailer.”
In the current episode of In the Driver’s Seat, host Doug Roose also reflects on a few stories that have stuck with him over the years.
How about you? Tell us about your harvest-related stories – the funny ones and the not so funny ones. We want to hear from you.
For more insights on the 4-Hs of harvest, listen to the latest podcast episode with guest Kallie Schade. Feel free to contact your ADM representative if you have questions about grain marketing, fertilizer, or crop insurance during this busy season. ADM wishes you a safe and productive harvest.
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