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Harvest has begun early this year. Perhaps that’s not such a surprise considering what type of year 2012 has been. From the unseasonably warm winter to the unfortunately dry summer, this has certainly been a year most people won’t forget.
Here in southern MN, most farmers have started harvesting corn and while it’s early on the calendar, the corn is mature. Moisture levels started high, in the mid to high 20’s, but a few good drying days and strong winds have brought those levels down. Early results say the yields are better than expected, but remember it’s still early. Perhaps the dry summer made us lower our expectations too.
I know that others around the country have not done as well. I work for an animal nutrition company and through my contacts across the U.S. I hear reports of very poor yields or rather almost nonexistent yields. In addition to the reduced quantity of corn, some areas need to be concerned about the quality of corn. Aflatoxin, which can be detrimental to animal performance, is often produced by molds that grow in drought stricken corn. This creates a challenge for farmers because now they may not only be short of corn, but the corn they do have contains mycotoxins that can be harmful to their animals.
September is my favorite month of the year. The combination of warm days and cools nights create a wonderful atmosphere. The excitement of harvest and seeing the results of the growing season fills the air. Kids are back in school with a fresh new year ahead of them. It’s a great time to live on the farm.
After getting off to a very wet start, the fields dried out surprisingly well and now harvest is in full swing. Except for a few small wet spots, bean harvest is complete. Yields haven’t been totaled, but appear to be better than expected. Dale has started to harvest corn. The quality seems good and he was happy to have fresh corn for the pigs, which they always seem to eat better.
This is an exciting time of year as there is lots of activity with tractors, wagons, trucks and combines. Six months ago tiny seeds were planted. The ground has been fertilized, cultivated and watered. The combination of sunshine and good weather along with the hopes and prayers of many farmers has culminated in what they glean from the fields today. It not only takes science, skill and technology, but a little good luck to get a great harvest.
I listen to the drone of tractors going late into the night. Fall harvest means long hours. Farmers take advantage of the good weather while they can. Everyone has a job to do, even if it’s just making lunch for the workers. Growing food for people and animals is an important job.
With the fall season officially here, it’s time to say goodbye to much of the garden produce. Beets, carrots and potatoes have all been dug and are ready for winter storage. The tomato plants have produced well, but are starting to fade and the recent heavy rains have been hard on them. Only the squash, pumpkins and sweet potatoes remain in the garden, as we wait until they reach full maturity.
Fall is my favorite time of year. I love the warm sunny days and the cool crisp nights. The colorful leaves paint a wonderful picture across the trees. The fall air has a certain scent that is easy to identify, but hard to explain. Going for bike rides and running seems extra special because I know that in a few weeks, the weather will change and not be as pleasant.
A few apples hang on the trees and we continue to harvest them as best we can before they fall to the ground. Apple pies, crisps, pancakes and applesauce dominate the menu as we try to eat them at their peak.
Soon I’ll put away the tomato cages, haul off the excess vines and have Dale till the garden. Before too long a blanket of snow will cover the ground as it goes dormant over the winter in preparation for spring and the next garden season.