Harvest continues ahead of schedule
Across the state, farmers are bringing in their crops for the year. Many of the crops are ahead of schedule, and good weather has allowed farmers to continue with their harvest with very few delays.
“The majority of Colorado received above average precipitation in the form of scattered showers and snow last week. The moisture helped winter wheat planting in some areas but conditions are still very dry. Temperatures were below average last week. Farmers were allowed 5.8 days in the field for operations,” according to the October 15 Colorado Crop Report, Colorado Field Office.
Field corn continues to be ahead of schedule this year. According to the report, “Corn progressed to 98 percent mature and 50 percent harvested, 16 points ahead of the five year average.”
Other row crops were also ahead of schedule. “Dry bean progress was reported 94 percent harvested. Dry onion harvest was 89 percent complete by week’s end. Sorghum progress increased to 70 percent mature and 18 percent harvested. The crop was rated in mostly very poor to poor condition,” said the report.
One crop that is seeing better yields on pace this year is the sugarbeet crop. “Sugarbeet harvest continued at the usual pace last week at 41 percent harvested with the crop rated in mostly good condition,” according to the report.
Eight percent of the crop was rated as excellent, 68 percent was rated as good, 19 percent was rated as fair, 5 percent was rated as poor and none of the crop was rated as very poor.
At the beginning of the season, the forecast for sugar beets was reported at 30 tons per acre, which would be higher than ever before. The record was set in 2010, with 29.5 tons per acre. However, there are some producers who expect their yields to be as high as 34 to 37 tons per acre.
Potatoes are just completing their harvest, with 95 percent complete. Sunflower harvest progressed to 35 percent complete with the crop’s condition ranging from poor to very poor.
Not all farmers are harvesting right now. Wheat farmers are just wrapping up their planting.
“Planting of winter wheat progressed to 92 percent of the acreage planted by the end of the week. Emergence continued behind the average reaching 51 percent last week compared with 72 percent for the five year average. The crop was rated in mostly good to fair condition,” according to the crop progress report.
“The 2013 Colorado winter wheat crop is almost entirely planted now. Planting has been a little slower than normal this year, primarily because it has been so dry. Farmers have had to dust in their crop, because there was almost no moisture,” said Darrell Hanavan, Executive Director for Colorado Wheat.
He continued, “They don’t plant it as deep as normal. They delayed planting hoping they would get moisture. We did get some moisture in some areas, and that helped. Others did not get any.”
Hanavan said that he expects roughly 2.4 million acres to be planted, which would be higher than last year, but not a record. “We will have more acres than we had last year if everyone plants that we expect,” he said.
Emergence is what most farmers are waiting on now, and this stage is vital to the productivity of the plant in the spring. “The wheat is emerging in a lot of eastern Colorado, but emergence isn’t as high as normal. Approximately 51 percent is emerged, compared to the five year average of 72 percent. That main reason for that is because it’s dry,” Hanavan stated.
He added, “They just need rain or snow this fall or winter. We like to enter the winter with germination and emergence. If you don’t get it until the spring, the yield potential will be reduced.”
In general, wheat farmers are optimistic about the future of their crop, even though it’s dry. “A lot of farmers are telling me these are the driest conditions they can ever remember. They are optimistic. The last two years we have had abnormal conditions, and ended up with above average crops so they are hopeful that they will get moisture this fall or winter,” he said.
Pastureland continues to struggle. The condition of pastureland is rated mostly very poor to poor. Alfalfa hay harvest continued with 95 percent of the 4th cutting complete, compared to 83 percent last week and 59 percent last year. The five year average is 49 percent.
According to the crop progress report, “The condition of livestock was rated fair to good at the end of last week. Death losses for cattle and sheep were average. Stored feed supplies continue to be rated as short for this time of year.” ❖
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Colorado Gov. Jared Polis is expected to sign SB 21-87, known as the Farm Workers Bill of Rights, though much of the content will be decided through the rulemaking process.