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Wait or harvest? Iowa farmers face conundrum after rainy fall

A cornfield is flooded near Hills in Johnson County on Oct. 11. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
A cornfield is flooded near Hills in Johnson County on Oct. 11. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

Weeks of steady and heavy rain pounding around crops in the low points of farm fields could cause even more delay for farmers anxious to finish this season’s harvest after being kept out of the field by wet weather.

Iowa State University Extension agronomist Virgil Schmitt said farmers face a tough decision with mature crops in standing water — they can wait for the ground to dry out or freeze before running harvesters through the wet area, risking a higher chance of crop mold and fungus that can make animals ill, or run the harvester through and risk damaging their field’s long-term health by compacting wet soil.

Corn in standing water also are susceptible to stalk rot, making harvesting more difficult, and causing soybeans pods that are supposed to be dry upon harvesting to absorb more water and break open, dropping the oilseeds to the ground where they can’t be picked up.

It’s not clear exactly how many acres of crops are in standing water across the state.

Farmers report flooded acres to their crop insurance agents, but there isn’t an entity centralizing reports of lost yield due to flooding.

l Comments: (319) 398-8366; dan.mika@thegazette.com

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