Despite the frosty temperatures, Jim Neis was out in the field on Tuesday, trying to get the rest of his crop out of the ground.
"I'm actually sitting in the combine right now, cutting soybeans," Neis, who farms in northeast Douglas County, said by phone on Tuesday afternoon. "Mother Nature's not cooperating this year. Last year, she was 30 days ahead of schedule and this year I think she's 40 days behind schedule."
That's the bad news. The good news is local farmers plan to have a better harvest than 2012, when their fields were ravaged by the severe drought.
Area producers are out in the fields, putting the finishing touches on this year's harvest. Already behind schedule because of the late planting season, they're now competing with mud and at-times too-moist crops, a result of the recent rainfall.
Douglas County farmers are about 80-90 percent done with their corn and soybean harvests, according to Bill Wood, director of Douglas County Extension. "If we don't get any more rain, they'll probably all be done in a week," he noted.
That's a big if, with the county getting its share of rain lately and more in the forecast for this weekend. That, again, is the bad news. "Guys would like to be done sooner," Wood said. "But I'd rather have good yields and go a little later rather than have bad yields and be done in October like last year."
Yields look to be above average this year, with corn clocking in anywhere from 100 to 135 bushels per acre and soybeans averaging in the high 30s to low 40s, Wood said. That's compared to eight-year averages of 99 and 31 for corn and soybeans, respectively.
Steve Wilson, manager of Baldwin Feed Co. Inc. in Baldwin City, guesses area farmers are about two-thirds of the way done with their harvests, with many rushing to get their soybeans out of the ground because that crop is less able to withstand harsh weather conditions.
"I can't imagine it's all going to be complete anytime soon," he said of this year's harvest. "I think it's going to stretch out all through November. If it won't rain this weekend, we'd get a lot done by next week. If it does rain, it just pushes it back again."
Neis, who farms 2,000 acres each of corn and soybeans, said that while his yields will be better than last year, they won't be as good as he would have hoped. His corn, for one, missed rain at a crucial time, in mid-July.
Even so, his corn has been averaging 100 to 110 bushels per acre compared to last year's 30 to 50 bushels. His soybeans have been closer to 50 bushels per acre, as opposed to 2012's 30.
Neis is racing to harvest his remaining 600 acres of soybeans and 700 acres of corn.
"Mother Nature's going to have to stop raining. The rain this time of year does more harm than good," he said, noting that it causes combines to tear up fields and the crops to be too wet. "I think we're going to be (harvesting) another two, possibly three weeks. As long as the moisture stays away, we'll keep plugging away."