Despite Drought, Harvest Looks Good - KHGI-TV/KWNB-TV/KHGI-CD-Grand Island, Kearney, Hastings

Despite Drought, Harvest Looks Good

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Nebraska farmers are feeling a sense of relief. As Doug Saathoff cuts soybeans near Hastings he says it's nothing to brag about that crops survived one of the most extreme droughts in decades.

"I feel pretty good," he said. "Yields have been really good. I would never guess yields would've been this good even with irrigation. We're thankful and blessed to have what we have."

Dry crops have harvest a month ahead of schedule, and it shows at CPI's grain elevators.

CPI Vice President of Grains Gail Ortegren said, "Strange year in that as early as it is, it seems like we're getting equal amounts of corn and soybeans at the same time so it puts a little stress on the elevator to do both commodities."

Farmers like Doug usually wrap up soybeans first, but find themselves switching equipment daily. 

"These newer combines it's not that big a deal anymore, just press buttons," Saathoff said.

At this rate, harvest will be wrapped up by mid-October, when it normally hits its peak. 

Ortegren said, "We've got guys that are totally done and it's not even the end of September yet."

In recent years, market rules were re-written as corn prices went up at harvest. But this year seems to be a return to the old rules as prices drop when the supply of corn is greatest. 

"Corn and beans both have been dropping rather significantly," Ortegren explained.

But to even have a crop to deliver makes farmers like Doug Saathoff feel good, even if they spent more to irrigate when nature didn't provide the rain. 

"We're thankful for what we got this year. Could've been a disaster," he said.

The Nebraska Corn Board calls it a testament to family farmers, that despite the worst drought in 50 years this will be the eighth biggest harvest on record.

Drought conditions continue to worsen, as the latest drought map shows 98 percent of Nebraska in extreme shape or worse. 

Three-quarters of the state is listed as exceptional, which is the worst drought classification of all.

At the start of this year, conditions were mostly normal. After a mild spring, farmers were optimistic about the weather.

But extreme heat and a continued lack of rainfall has taken its toll.

In fact, this is the worst drought in the 12 year history of the Drought Monitor map produced
by the University of Nebraska.

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