Fall Harvest 2019

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SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2019

THE NORTH PLATTE TELEGRAPH

Wet weather leads to a late harvest

Todd von Kampen / The North Platte Telegraph This Sept. 12 photo shows cornstalks in prime gold-and-green condition at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s West Central Research and Extension Center at North Platte. The only problem: Corn stands usually look like this in the region in late August. They’re usually starting to dry down toward harvest by mid-September, said Robert Klein, the center’s western Nebraska crops specialist.

From a ‘bomb cyclone’ to unusual amounts of precipitation in July, August, farmers have had to cope with a difficult year

Weight gains, “as far as I can tell, are better than normal,” he said. “The unknown is: What are our (heifer) pregnancy rates?” If you’re a “townie” look- ing for signs of this unusual season, consider the green- ness in the Sandhills at a time when brownness has usually set in. Or consider Lake McCo- naughy. The massive reservoir north of Ogallala, which has supplied water to central Ne- braska farmers for 75 years, typically drops significantly during the July and August heat. Not this year. McCo- naughy’s Aug. 31 elevation of 3,258.7 feet above sea level was identical to its Aug. 1 level, said Jeff Buettner, government and public rela- tions manager for the Cen- tral Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District. Central’s customers in Lincoln, Dawson, Gosper, Phelps and Kearney coun- ties likely won’t use more than half their allotment of 9 inches per acre, Buettner said. “I think it’s been the fre- quency (of rain) more than anything else,” he said. “It

By TODD VON KAMPEN todd.vonkampen@ nptelegraph.com

You don’t have to be in ag- riculture to appreciate how wet 2019 has been across Nebraska. It’s been a difficult year, two regional ag experts say, but not just because of how much rain or snow has fallen. It’s also about how often it’s come. No matter what they grow, west central Nebraska farmers have been about two weeks behind since March’s “bomb cyclone,” said Bob Klein, western Nebraska crops specialist at the University of Nebras- ka-Lincoln’s West Central Research and Extension Center in North Platte. “I’d probably say that this would be one of our most challenging crop production years, with the exception of the drought years from ’52 to ’56,” said Klein, a UNL ex- tension staffer for 59 years. While crop growers hope it doesn’t frost before Octo- ber, cattle growers wonder what their fall sales will bring after a rough spring, said West Central beef cattle reproductive physiologist Rick Funston.

Courtesy of UNL West Central Research and Extension Center Thanks to the frequent and sometimes heavy precipitation throughout 2019 in west cen- tral Nebraska, this center pivot was bogged down in mud — hindering its typical irrigation movements — at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s West Central Water Resources Field Laboratory about six miles southwest of Brule.

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