Right now it's kind of a wait-and-see situation for area grain farmers. Their corn and soybean crops, while widely variable around the area, are out there in the fields waiting to be harvested. What area farmers would like is a long, warm dry fall that allows their crops to mature and be harvested at a low moisture content.
What they don't want is an early frost that doesn't allow their crops to mature, reducing yields and farm income. Or they would rather not have a wet fall that doesn't allow the grain to dry and they have to harvest in wet, muddy field conditions that are tough to deal with and cause equipment problems.
Last week's heavy rain in some areas didn't help the situation one bit.
Trumbull County growers will harvest a lot of acres of corn and soybeans this fall. While there are a lot of acres, many more are being planted than 25 or 30 years ago in the county.
Each year, depending on how prices were the year before and predictions for the coming year, more acres have been planted. That is a trend that has been taking place for many years, especially when crop prices have been good.
Speaking of prices, that is another factor that grain farmers are in a wait and see situation this fall. Some uncertainty exists about just what corn and soybean prices will be. Price depends largely on the national yields in the U.S. and yields in South America.
Nationally, lots of acres of both crops were planted last spring. But growing conditions across the country varied widely, as they did locally. Iowa, for example, a huge corn and soybean growing state, continued to experience some serious drought conditions. Yields have been hurt, according to some U.S. reports. Other areas had too much water with flooding.
Yet predictions by USDA and other sources say there will be a nearly bumper crop for both grains. If so, prices will be lower here and across the U.S.
So it is wait and see. Then farmers have to make another important decision. Should they sell their grain directly from the combine and take whatever the market price is on that day? Or should they store their grain, either at home or at the local elevator where they have to pay a storage fee, hoping for a better price later on?
Over the past several years, farmers have built a lot more on-farm storage to have some more control over marketing their crops. At the same time, several million bushels of commercial storage space have been built providing a better marketing alternative for growers.
Given the number of acres to be harvested, we will see a lot of combines of various colors moving up and down the fields like giant bugs, shelling out the grain from the stalks.
We will also see these big machines on our highways as they move from field to field, so be patient with them and give them some space. That's not always easy because drivers can be in a hurry at times.
Keep in mind that those combines could be out there harvesting food for your dinner table or helping keep gasoline prices lower by being processed into ethanol that replaces gasoline in your car. More efficient farms mean bigger fields sometimes a distance from the home farm.
Yes, it will be an interesting fall - just like all of them are.
Parker is an independent agricultural writer.