Cloudy forecast for sunflower harvest after wet weather returns

Published: Nov. 20, 2019 at 4:47 PM CST
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Just when you think farmers will catch a break with the weather, a little bit of rain resets what had been a couple weeks of favorable conditions. With the brief warm up, the ground is now soft again and a lot of fields can't handle the weight of combines, meaning crops will continue to sit.

When we visited Rodney Meckle in Center on Wednesday, the original intent of the story was supposed to be about how he finally able to get his sunflowers off the field and start catching up after being delayed most of the year harvesting because of wet weather. The weather turned warm and a little bit of rain came to the area and now that combine is going to sit in the driveway for the foreseeable future.

One leftover sunflower is all Rod Meckle is taking from the fields Wednesday. A quick shot of rain and warmer temps turned the ground into mush.

"It's one of my better looking sunflower crops, but it'd look better in the bin,” said Meckle.

Now Meckle says he doesn't know when he'll get in the field again. If the ground freezes soon he'll be back on track, but every day he waits runs the risk of wind damage.

"It knocks them over, especially when the ground is this soft. It will tip them right over or break them off. Then the heads are laying on the ground and you can't get them,” said Meckle.

Meckle is one of very few farmers across the state not dealing with extensive stem and head rot. When some farmers tried to combine the crop, a type of mold essentially turned heads to dust.

"It's basically dissolved the seed kernel and it turns into a white powder and it just kind of blows up and there's really no viable seed there,” said Rick Schmidt, Oliver County extension agent.

Schmidt says some lost 75 percent of the yield because of constant rain.

“A thousand pounds at 17 or 18 cents an acre is $180 an acre that was lost due to the weather it's significant because yield obviously pays bills,” said Schmidt.

Meckle says he's really waiting and seeing if the ground is going to freeze up so he can get these going. He needs to get them off by the end of the month. That's when he'll have to go back to the insurance agent and get an extension on the coverage in that field.

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