SCOTTSBLUFF - Harvest equipment in the fields will become more prevalent in the coming days.

Late spring snow storms, water issues and summer hail have all taken its toll on the 2019 growing season.

Extension Educator Gary Stone from the University of Nebraska Panhandle Research and Extension Center said he thinks many growers will wait for a few more days to get through some upcoming predicted rain before they try to harvest beans, letting them absorb some additional moisture to prevent breakage during harvest.

Leo Hoehn said on his properties there is work progressing on cutting and bailing millet hay, cutting beans and harvesting some hailed-out corn for silage.

“With the severe hail that we got, and most of the area got, about three weeks ago, we figure that the most we’re going to be able to salvage from the corn is by chopping it up for silage,” Hoehn said. “Of course, you’re limited as to how much of that you can do if you don’t have cattle to feed it to. We’re fortunate to have feedlots where we can put it to use.”

As he drove through the field looking at the crop being cut, Hoehn commented that the corn still maintained some leaf structure and was standing fairly well, However, stalks and product remaining on the ground after the cutter passed through showed that the hail had knocked plenty of corn down, “but we’re getting a big percentage of it,” he said.

Stone said the effects of the hail are scattered from what he has seen in the region.

“The hail damage is really varied,” he said. “Some areas were pretty well hit and might not have much of a crop. Those that dodged the hail might be OK.”

A number of corn fields have already been cut for silage, Stone said. The key factor there is checking for nitrates to be sure that the crop is safe for the livestock.

Small refinery exemptions, trade wars and overproduction have combined to keep farm income operating below the cost of production, Hoehn said. Combine those factors with the weather, and the season has seen it’s share of problems.

“Nature is the nature of the business,” Hoehn said. “It’s been a difficult year with the late spring, having water in the ditch, losing water in the ditch, getting water back in the ditch, and then the hail, and a very widespread hail. ... And the thing is, it’s all out of our control.”

Some fields of corn not hit with the extensive hail damage will be salvageable and Hoehn said he thinks his beans will come through.

“Our beans are organic,” he said. “Even though they got hit with the hail and got flooded early on, they’re going to be OK. They looked a lot better until three weeks ago, but they’ll still be reasonable.”

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Mark McCarthy is a reporter with the Star-Herald. He can be reached at 308-632-9049 or via email at

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