IC farmers say crop quality tops quantity in choosing when to harvest

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- The recent heat has helped some crops mature and get ready for harvest.

But farmers in Johnson County said timing is everything when deciding when to get the combine out. The latest drought monitor released on Thursday showed areas of drought varying from no drought to extreme drought. Experts with the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Office said there's a target moisture level farmers want in their crops. Hitting that target means an increase in profit. Two weeks ago, Randy Lackender didn't think he'd be running his combine through his soybean fields today. But he and his crew were prepared nonetheless.

"Just do your due diligence beforehand, make sure everything is greased and all the belts look good then you'll save yourself that headache," said Maclaine Putney, an assistant at Lackender Farm.

"The second that bean is ready, we're going to be in the field because it's very important," said Randy Lackender, the owner of Lackender Farm.

It's important because if left in the field too long, more soybean pods crack open and the beans fall to the ground. If corn kernels get too dry, they can attract insects. Another nearby farmer said it's easy to start harvesting too early though.

"You might drive by a field and not think they're ready because they're still yellow or green but the bean itself is dry so we're actually maybe pushing that a little bit," said Benjamin Schmidt, the owner of Black Diamond Farms.

Today the beans were mostly ready in Lackender's field, so he took the combine out for a test run. Lackender said the recent dry spell has been a blessing because now he won't have to spend money drying the beans after harvesting them.

"If you can naturally let it dry in the field that's going to be huge savings for you," said Lackender.

"If you can pick it and put it right in the bin, that's the best way to go," said Putney.

Dry ground means the equipment won't get stuck but there is one concern about it staying too dry for too long before winter.

"We always need moisture for next year so we always want to replenish so that would be the major downfall for this time of year," said Putney.

Patience and timing are the names of this game. Some farmers said the corn is a little behind this year, but by the time soybeans are done, the corn should be ready for the combines.