Local farmers see successful harvest despite drought

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO — Duane Mann of Mann Family Farms is busy harvesting crops as harvest season hits full force.

Local farmers are enjoying a bountiful harvest this year despite drought conditions and the aftermath of the derecho in 2020, but it means that everyone wants a piece of the pie.

Duane Mann, who helps run a 4,000 acre corn and soybean farm in Marshall County, had to destroy several hundreds of acres of flattened corn following the derecho.

“That is not the case this year. We’re harvesting everything out there,” Mann said.

Yields are looking way better than he anticipated, with soybeans ranging from 60 to 75 bushels per acre.

“Everybody that I talked to said they couldn’t believe what beans were yielding because it was so dry,” Mann said. “Typically beans handle drought a little better than corn, just because corn requires so much rain and water to get rolling.”

CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS Duane Mann helps harvest crops as harvest season hits full force at Mann Family Farms.

Drought and a lack of soil moisture hindered local farmers throughout the summer, as Mann hadn’t seen such dry conditions in decades. During a dry year like 2021, soybeans respond well to rain in August, and Mann saw four inches of rain fill his gauge by the end of the month.

His corn plants are yielding close to expectations ranging from 180 to 225 bushels per acre. Compared to last year, Mann said he’s completely and totally satisfied with the yields.

“I’m definitely not disappointed in corn yields by any means, because corn does take a fair amount of rain to really get it going,” Mann said. “You throw four or five more inches of rain in there, maybe a little bit in June and in July, and it puts 20 to 30 bushels in the corn just like a snap of the fingers.”

Higher crop prices also are complementing the higher yields, with corn averaging $6.38 per bushel and soybeans averaging $13.70 per bushel as of August. A year prior, corn averaged $3.08 per bushel, and soybeans averaged $8.64 per bushel.

Local farm owner Paul Veren also said he saw better yields than he felt he should have given the drought conditions, with 20 more bushels of corn per acre than average. He echoed Mann’s observations on the surprisingly dry conditions.

Local farmers are pleased with this year’s harvest results given drought conditions and last year’s derecho, but higher production costs are on the horizon.

“I was expecting below normal,” Veren said. “I didn’t think it could be this good. It’s not that it’s all fantastic, and it is very good, but it’s just way more than what people thought we could do.”

Veren feels that a lack of extreme heat days may have helped the crops.

“What little rain we did get kept spoon feeding it along and bought us a little time,” he said.

Because of the high yields and high prices, he added, everyone wants a piece of the pie now.

“We’re going to make money this year,” Veren said. “Prices might be higher next year, but this is our year (that) we’re going to make money. The issue next year is everything is going to be high.”

Production costs, equipment, fuel, land and supplies such as fertilizer are all going to be more expensive heading into 2022. Veren said it’s not uncommon for inputs to go up after farmers see a successful harvest.

Mann said that while he isn’t complaining about the higher costs, he feels like “they never give us a chance to breathe.”

“As I always like to say, the world literally revolves around agriculture,” Mann said. “When agriculture is busy, and the prices are good, it seems like everybody’s got something good going on. And they want to charge you for it.”


Contact Trevor Babcock at 641-753-6611 or tbabcock@timesrepublican.com.


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