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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Historically early harvest

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Corn is combined on Chris and Marcia Langner's farm in eastern Clay County on Tuesday. The couple began harvesting corn on Marcia's Aug. 29 birthday and completed that field before the calendar flipped to September, both firsts.
(Photo by Gabe Licht) [Order this photo]
Marcia Langner has completed numerous farm-related chores on her Aug. 29 birthday.

"I think I've chopped silage on my birthday before and I know I've baled hay and combined oats before," Langner said.

But, she said she "had never even thought about harvesting in August before."

"That's not something you want to do in August, typically," she said.

So, the Langners decided to make their own bit of history, with intentions to finish in September.

"The very first field we took out in August averaged 19 percent moisture," Langner said. "Sixteen percent is considered dry, so we were kind of surprised. We had handpicked some, so we knew it wasn't going to be really far off, but were still surprised."

Overall, moisture levels have been as low as 14 percent, but typically between 17 and 20 percent.

It didn't hurt that the early-maturity hybrid corn had been planted on April 11, the first day federal crop insurance will cover crops.

"That's one nice thing about planting different maturities of corn," Langner said.

With dry conditions a problem for cow-calf operators like the Langners, the early harvest provided much needed feed.

"They're enjoying the stalks right now," Langner said, pointing to an adjacent field.

What about the yields?

"The first field came in at 184 bushels per acre after it was dried," Langner said. "We were really pleased. That field looked really good all year."

But variability has been the name of the game thus far in 2012.

"The next field we went to was really light soil," Langner said. "That did about 90 bushels per acre."

The averages of Langner's fields to date fall between 150 and 173 bushels per acre for dry corn.

Their neighbors have already harvested soybeans and the Langners plan to follow suit when the conditions are suitable for fieldwork.

They're hoping for more pleasant surprises that defy appearances.

"From the road you can't tell," Langner said.

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