The 2021 Harvest

November 10, 2021

Weather is a key factor with corn and soybean production and harvest.

As farmers know, weather is always a factor when it comes to growing and harvesting crops.
In a recap of this year’s harvest in DeKalb County, farmers got an early start because the crops had reached full maturity and grain moisture levels were ideal. Also, field conditions were dry so many farmers started harvest in mid-September.

September and October saw above average temperatures which brought grain moisture levels lower. For example, soybeans were harvested around 10 percent moisture and corn ranged from 16-17 percent moisture. In a typical year, soybeans are stored at 13 percent moisture and corn is dried to 15% moisture. As a result, very little drying was needed this year for grain storage.

Many farmers got a good three weeks of harvest done before the rains came in early October and again in late October. Combines sat idle for a few weeks in October due to rainfall and wet field conditions.

Another weather-related factor this year was wind storms, which occurred in August, knocking down some corn. Farmers refer to this as “down” corn. In order to pick up the down corn, some added a reel to their combine head to help feed the flattened corn stalks into the machine.

The weather also prompted the return of some soybeans in fields. With the beans being so dry, they were prone to shattering out of the pods as they were being combined. Some of the soybean seeds remained in the fields and coupled with warmer weather and some rain, it caused the seeds to germinate. Thus, some fields looked like a second crop of beans was growing.

These harvest scenes capture some of what was going on during the 2021 harvest.

Some corn fields were knocked down due to high winds in August. This field north of Sandwich was severely impacted by a wind storm. Other fields had pockets of wind damage throughout the county. Additionally, some fields had corn go down due to lodging, or a weak corn stalk.
Early harvested soybean fields ended up growing more beans. The unintended second crop of beans occurred because the soybeans were so dry this year and were prone to shattering out of the pods while being harvested. Some seeds remained in the field and with warm weather and rain, they began to germinate.
This year some farmers added a reel to their combine head. The reel helped feed the down corn into the combine. But with the down corn, farmers had to reduce their combine speed to adjust to picking up as much as possible of the flattened corn. This meant harvest took longer and not all the corn was retrieved, thus yields were lower in these fields.