Early harvest in Iowa doesn't mean good harvest - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Early harvest in Iowa doesn't mean good harvest

Gary Lahr harvested his corn fields Tuesday afternoon in Dubuque County. Gary Lahr harvested his corn fields Tuesday afternoon in Dubuque County.

Harvest season is ahead of schedule across the board statewide, from corn and soybeans to hay. An early harvest, however, doesn't necessarily mean a good one.

Dubuque County corn and soybean farmer Gary Lahr was harvesting his corn Tuesday afternoon.

"You got that sun shining like this, you're going through the golden corn. This is my favorite time of the year, is the harvest," he said of the warm autumn day.

The summer weather, however, wasn't so kind. Lahr farms 500 acres of corn and 200 acres of soybeans throughout the county and knows firsthand the impact of the drought.

"You either got a shot of rain when you needed it or you didn't, and I know down here they did get a few more showers that I missed out on or only caught a little bit of at the home place, so it was just one of them years," Lahr said, whose home farm is located just eight miles from where he was combining Tuesday afternoon.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture says nearly 90 percent of the state's corn crop is now harvested. That's one month ahead of normal.

"A very good year for harvest so far," Lahr said.

The drought, however, created inconsistent quality, with noticeable differences even within the same field.

"Well, you can see all the red," Lahr said, pointing to a computer screen in his combine that measures the yield as it goes. "That's the poorer part. We're getting into the green."

Lahr said he estimates his average yield will be down 40 percent this year.

When it comes to livestock, winter feed supplies also look to be down.

Iowa secretary of agriculture Bill Northey said on Monday that hay supplies are in short supply in nearly half the state.

Beef farmers such as Paul Vaassen are letting their cattle graze in cut fields right now to save hay and silage. Still, Vaassen said, winter supplies will be tight.

"It's going to be a challenge. Some people are going to have to be buying grain or buying hay, and, consequently, those prices - because of the demand - will probably be higher," he said.

This means a likely eventual rise in the price of meat and other commodities for consumers.

A report Monday from the Iowa Department of Agriculture shows more than 90 percent of the state's soybean crop is now out of the fields. That, too, is three weeks ahead of normal schedule.

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