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Harvest check-in: early reports average thanks to weather

Farmers all over the state are firing up their combines and getting to work.
Farmers all over the state are firing up their combines and getting to work.

Farmers and analysts say that so far this year’s harvest appears average throughout the state.

Last year, the state averaged 195 bushels per acre, the best harvest Indiana had ever seen. This year, the USDA estimates Indiana will harvest 186 bushels per acre, putting harvest on pace for an average year.

Harvest season can range from early September all the way to late November, depending on weather.

According to Dan Quinn, extension corn specialist at Purdue University, approximately 14% of all crops in Indiana have been harvested so far. He said the sunny, dry weather we’ve been having the last few weeks has been a huge help to productivity.

“It's kind of full bore across the state in terms of harvest right now,” Quinn said. “And the weather, the way the weather is right now, it really helps the farmers to be able to get in those fields and get things done.“

Read more: IU studies cover crops as climate resource through $1.6 million shared grant

A big component of yearly yields is the variability between farms. Indiana takes up a vast amount of land from north to south, and farms across the state can get an array of weather patterns. Quinn said some farms were more affected by drought than others.

“If you look at the month of June, and how dry it got really in kind of central Indiana, west central Indiana, those areas just maybe aren’t as good as what folks have hoped,” he said.

A six-week drought in the summer seems to be the limiting factor for a lot of crops, according to Zach Stephans, a farmer based in Ellettsville.

“That six-week period of no rain that we had really limited our top-end yield,” Stephans said. “But still these late rains, I think, finished beans off and helped us capitalize on what our average would be, even maybe a little above average, but still not that best of the best.”

Read more: Passing the torch to the next generation of farmers

As harvest continues for the next few weeks, Stephans asks that citizens be patient with farmers.

“We're doing a job when we're moving equipment and big trucks and big combines and things down the road,” he said. “People get impatient with us; we're just trying to do a job and do it safely.