Fall harvest is upon us. Fields of corn and soybeans over much of the area have looked exceptional. With plenty of moisture and plant nutrients, they have been dark green, the corn very tall with big ears starting to drop down and the soybeans with many pods hanging on them.
Given the erratic weather we had during the spring, crops look exceptional this fall. We had some dry periods in April with a lot of acres planted.
Then it turned wet and cold, and both corn and soybeans were having problems germinating. When they did, they looked yellow and didn't grow much because of the rains and cool weather.
But then it did dry out and warm up. Farmers worked night and day to get the rest of their fields planted. And with the rains and warm weather, crops really took off.
One of my friends jokingly said his hobby this summer was standing near his corn fields and watching the corn grow.
Right along with the good growth of crops came the weeds. Yes, they liked the rains and warm weather. Fields had to be closely watched and cultivation or herbicide control was needed at the right time.
Now corn that goes into the silo, where it goes through the fermentation process to become good feed, is being harvested. The entire plant, ears, stalk and all, are chopped and put in the upright or bunker silos. It is sealed so the air can't get to it and allowed to ferment to preserve it.
Then soybean harvest usually comes next. Combines will be moving up and down the fields like giant green, yellow or red bugs to cut and thresh the beans.
Soybeans continue to be sold at a good price and local farmers are looking for an exception yield. Prices for both corn and beans need to stay up because farmers' cost of production has sky rocketed this year. Without higher prices for the crop, they will have problems making a reasonable profit from their crops.
Corn will be picked following the beans. It takes a different head on the combine to go down the rows of corn and it yields many more bushels per acre than soybeans.
Dry weather at harvest always helps because it is expensive to harvest with muddy conditions. Also dry corn needs less artificial heat in the bins to get the moisture down to marketable levels.
With considerable amounts of corn going for ethanol, which helps keep the price up, some groups are trying to say that ethanol is the main cause of higher food prices. A study done by the American Farm Bureau indicates that higher fuel, transportation, energy and labor costs are the main reasons that food prices have gone up. Increased global demand for our crops also is a factor.
AFBF studies show that ethanol's impact on food prices is from 3 to 10 percent of the increase.
When corn prices were too low for a farm profit, about $2 a bushel, the value of corn in a box of corn flakes was less that 4 cents. With today's corn prices, that value is about 8 cents. So you see, farm prices for corn don't greatly impact our food.
Those companies that have used corn syrup in their products, such as the soft drink industry, have been crying the loudest. Corn syrup was used because it was cheap.
So let's hope for good harvest weather and good crop yields with a price that will allow farmers to make a decent income from all their work. And watch out for those combines that have to travel our highways to go from field to field. Be patient with them and remember they are harvesting part of your dinner.
Parker grew up in Trumbull County, is retired from The Ohio State University and works with the local Farm Bureau Board.