County crop harvest is slightly behind

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With tobacco season well underway, many Switzerland County farmers are working on getting their corn and soybean crops harvested before winter weather sets in.

According to Chuck Deputy of the Farm Service Agency, this year’s harvest may be slightly behind where Switzerland County farmers are normally at this point in the season; but overall things are going well.

“The river bottoms are done, but up along the flat lands near Pleasant and Fairview and East Enterprise, that’s all been too wet for the farmers to get into,” Chuck Deputy said. “Most of the guys still have crops in the field up there, so we’re hoping that the weather cooperates for the next couple of weeks.”

Chuck Deputy said that he estimates that about 80-percent of the county’s soybean crop has been harvested. In talking with farmers, he says that this year’s crop is “average”, with the heat wave that hit the county back in August coming at a bad time for the crop.

“It’s not a bad crop, but it’s not exceptional, either,” Chuck Deputy said. “From what I’m hearing, the yields are pretty average.”

As for the corn crop, Chuck Deputy says that it’s about 70-percent harvested, and – again – “average” is the operative word among county farmers.

“Nothing spectacular,” Chuck Deputy said. “From what I heard, the early crop yields were pretty average from previous years. It’s pretty normal.”

As with all of the growing season, the one variable that farmers can’t control is the weather, and with rain and possibly some snow flurries forecast for the end of this week, weather will again play a role in the completion of the harvest season.

“We need those flat lands to dry up,” Chuck Deputy said. “If we get the rain that is being forecast, then that will slow farmers down even more. At this point we need a couple of weeks of dry weather for the ground to dry up enough.”

If the dry weather doesn’t come, then Chuck Deputy said that some farmers will be forced to wait until the ground freezes so that they can get equipment safely into the fields.

“Right now, you’re probably looking at farmers waiting for the land to freeze up rather than dry up,” Chuck Deputy said. “If it freezes, then equipment can get in there without cutting up the land.”

But waiting for the ground to freeze could also affect the yield, because the longer a crop stays in the field, the better chance there is for the weather to knock the crop down, which would lower the yield – especially for corn.

A big snow early in the season would also knock down soybeans that are still in the fields, so farmers are hoping that winter holds off for a while longer.

“Hopefully we’re a long ways off from getting a big snow,” Chuck Deputy said.