Steve Bemis (left) and Hank Frazier change the fuel filter and water separator on a John Deere tractor Thursday morning in DeKalb. Local farmers are getting their equipment ready in preparation for the start of the harvest season.
Steve Bemis (left) and Hank Frazier change the fuel filter and water separator on a John Deere tractor Thursday morning in DeKalb. Local farmers are getting their equipment ready in preparation for the start of the harvest season.

Cooler temperatures make some people think of changing leaves, pumpkin spice lattes and cozy sweaters, but when farmer Steve Bemis of DeKalb thinks of cooler temperatures, he thinks of the harvest.

With autumn approaching, Bemis and other DeKalb County farmers have been preparing to harvest their crops.

“Harvest will start in the next few weeks, so we’ve been getting our drier and grain bins ready, greasing up our machinery and equipment, changing oil and gearing up to go,” he said. “We will harvest a little earlier than normal this year. Hopefully if we start a little earlier, we’ll finish a little earlier.”

DeKalb County Farm Bureau President Mark Tuttle described this year’s crop as “a little bit above average.”

“We have a nice crop here in DeKalb County,” Tuttle said. “Our corn is pretty far along and our beans more so. We also had good wheat and oats.”

The United States Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service’s crop production report, issued on Aug. 12, forecasted soybean and corn production up from 2019.

According to the report, soybean production is up 25% from last year, forecast at 4.42 billion bushels; corn production is 12% from 2019, forecast at a record-high 15.3 billion bushels.

Approximately 83.8 million acres of soybeans were planted in the U.S., up 10% from last year. Soybean yields are expected to average a record-high 53.3 bushels per acre, up 5.9 bushels from 2019. Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio and South Dakota are forecasted to have record-high soybean yields.

Approximately 92 million acres of corn were planted in the U.S., up 3% from last year. Corn yields are expected to average a record-high 181.8 bushels per acre, up 14.4 bushels from 2019. NASS forecasts record-high corn yields in Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Washington and Wisconsin.

Tuttle said that the harvesting of crops will begin shortly, but is weather-dependent: corn in the next two or three weeks and soybeans by the end of September or the beginning of October.

“We had a very dry August,” Tuttle said. “The northern half of the county was a little more dry than the southern half. We’ve also had the three wettest Mays on record in 2018, 2019 and 2020.”

Tuttle said that the derecho that passed through the Midwest on Aug.10 left behind severe damage in Iowa, but “Illinois wasn’t hit as hard.”

“The damage in Iowa was terrible, destroying crops, grain bins, elevators, sheds and roofs,” he said. “They won’t fix all of that damage quickly. It will take grain setups two to three years until things are back to regular.”

Although farmers have faced some difficulties this growing season, Tuttle that he is “looking forward to completing harvest on time or maybe early.”

“I hope to have my Thanksgiving dinner around a table with my family instead of in a combine,” Tuttle said. “I’m optimistic about this year’s harvest and about yields and prices.”

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DeKalb County