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Race against the weather: trying to bring in the corn harvest

BENTON COUNTY, Iowa (KWWL) – A less than ideal growing season and low corn prices have made it a tough year for Iowa corn farmers. Compared to just a few years ago, Iowa corn is selling at a cheaper and cheaper price.

Lower prices mean fewer profits and a smaller margin for error and poor weather.

“A wet spring, then we dried off, now we’re wet again. It’s just about impossible to get out in the fields,” said Lance Lillibridge, a Benton County farmer.

In a typical year, corn would start being harvested in mid- to late-September and continue through October. However this year, fields are still full of corn and still have some green.

Lillibridge said they just started getting into their fields Tuesday after a dry weekend. He said it’s now a race against time.

“With it getting to be cooler days and wet weather, we’re not drying the corn down. The corn isn’t mature or just getting mature and getting to black layer,” he said.

The Trump Administration announced Friday plans to restore the demand for billions of gallons of ethanol. Lillibridge said that is encouraging for their crop as ethanol and it’s byproducts are a large portion of what corn goes to.

“We needed that. We needed to quit giving out refinery wavers and damaging RFS,” Lillibridge said.

RFS stands for the Renewable Fuel Standard. It outlines how many gallons of ethanol and biodiesel must be blended into fuel every year.

With more rain in the forecast, farmers will be trying to get as much done before playing another waiting game.

“We’re just going to have to hope and pray that we dry out and we can take the crop out in a decent condition,” he said.

He added that some of the trouble started this time last year with a wet harvest season. Farmers weren’t able to get much field work done before they had to plant this year.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture reported a bushel of corn was selling at an average $3.78 on October 8. That time in 2013, a bushel was bringing nearly $7.

Collin Dorsey

Weekend Anchor

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