The first week of October delivered sunny skies long enough for the 2013 harvest to begin in earnest.
"We had a good two or three days last week before the rains came," said Henry "Hank" Wunderink as he pulled over to take a break from harvesting soybeans. "We're 50 percent done with the beans. We're coming along pretty good."
The soybean yield, the Lowell farmer said, is a bit better than he had expected after the hot, dry weather in August. "That dry weather sucked the life out of some of the beans," he said.
Robert Nielsen, professor of agronomy at Purdue University West Lafayette, said given the erratic weather, when crops were planted can make a major difference in yield this season.
"The jury is still out on corn yields statewide simply because such a low percentage of the crop has been harvested," Nielsen said. Less than 20 percent of corn acreage has been harvested, to date.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has predicted both corn and bean yields will surpass 2012 numbers.
Generally, the Indiana corn harvest is running about one week behind the soybean harvest, largely because farmers are giving the corn extra time to dry out.
In some areas of Northwest Indiana, however, corn crops dried sufficiently so the familiar red and green combines were bringing in the corn ahead of soybean crops.
Nielsen said, "Early reports in many areas of the state have been surprisingly good yields, but many of those fields were also among the few, earlier planted ones and so may have escaped more of the late summer dry and heat."
Wunderink said he did pick a bit of corn for a dairy farm's use. That corn can have more moisture than is generally desirable, he said. The rest of his corn crop has since dried and will be harvested next. He has 800 acres in corn and 400 acres in soybeans.
Hanover Township farmer Larry Nelson said, despite drought last year, there were "high prices and high yields." This year's crops of corn and soybeans will be less, he expects.
"It all evens out.," he said. "If it were easy, everybody would do it."