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Weather plagues harvest in western Nebraska and eastern Wyoming | KRVN Radio

Weather plagues harvest in western Nebraska and eastern Wyoming

The 2019 growing season was a challenging one for many across Nebraska and Wyoming, and harvest is not shaping up any better.

The dry edible bean harvest was a disappointing one for producers in western Nebraska and eastern Wyoming.

The growers dealt with challenges from the weather to the collapse of one of the main irrigation systems, the Ft. Laramie Canal. 

“The yields were considerably down from the last couple of years, and with the challenges, it turned out to be a lot smaller crop than we expected,” said Dan Smith agronomist with Kelley Bean. 

Many of the bean plants didn’t produce the size or amount of beans in the pods. The late hail seemed just to shut the plants down.

Some of the beans left in the field may go to forage, but it’s more likely they will be destroyed.

“The beans will be disced under. Some may leave them stand through the winter just to collect some snow and more moisture for the spring,” Smith said.

Production problems in the area and where dry beans are grown have caused the market to move up, and next year’s market should be brighter. 

Smith said growers should get their seed orders in early, as the seed companies will not be prepared for a bigger demand. 

Sugar beet growers from Wyoming to North Dakota, Minnesota, and Nebraska have also had a year of obstacles. 

Mother Nature has thrown the gambit of rain, snow, heat, and cold at the growers this year for harvest. 

In Scottsbluff, Neb., the sugar beet harvest was 86 percent done by Oct. 30, with 160,000 tons left to harvest and process, which are frozen.

“The beets are completely frozen in the crown, and that is why we will go to an allocation,” said Jerry Darnell, vice president of the south region for Western Sugar. “Once the ground thaws, we’ll bring beets in and put them through the piler and process them right away.”

Western Sugar broke records in slicing beets on Oct. 7, breaking its previous campaign record of 8,032 sliced tons per day was set in 2018. On Oct. 7, they exceeded that record with 8,140 tons per day and broke it again on Oct. 15 with another record of 8,668 tons. 

Potatoes are another crop in western Nebraska, which faced challenges from the weather during harvest.

“We had some excessive rainfall in some areas, which caused compaction issues,” said Zane Walker, Walther Farms agronomist. “Otherwise, harvest went well, as most farmers were able to get the potatoes out before the big frost.”

The wet, cool summer caused problems for the potatoes, as the plants didn’t get enough growing days. 

“The yield was down slightly because of the short growing days,” Walker said. 

All of the potatoes at Walther Farms will be shipped and processed for potato chips. 

Harvest is still ongoing with corn in eastern Wyoming and western Nebraska, where many farmers didn’t start until mid-October and had been stopping and starting with the recent snows. 

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