Michael Leland/IPR

Iowa farmers are taking advantage of near-perfect harvesting weather, transforming standing corn and soybeans fields into stubble.                     In central Iowa’s Story County, Dennis Smith is feeling very good about progress harvesting his two-thousand acres of corn.  He says harvest is approaching the halfway mark. Smith’s farm northeast of Ames received heavy summer rains and it’s showing up in the bushels per acre he’s harvesting. “Areas where it was waterlogged, down to sixty to a hundred [bushels per acre]," he said.  "The good areas up to 240.

Emily Woodbury

This program originally aired on November 17, 2014.

This year, U.S. farmers are bringing in what is expected to be a record breaking harvest. On this edition of River to River - the modern day harvest.

IPR's Pat Blank

As the fall harvest hits full speed, state public safety officials are asking motorists to check their speed as they approach over-sized farm equipment on the road.

Iowa Highway Patrol Sergeant Nate Ludwig says traditional cars and trucks are no match for the agricultural machinery, which often weighs several tons.

“This time of year you need to watch for those large trucks, tractors and implements," he says.  "It can be anything from a small tractor to a large 20 row bean head combine,” he said.

Photo by Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

Farmers in the Midwest are facing a situation they haven't seen in years. Grain prices are down. After some of the most lucrative growing seasons they've ever seen, some producers could lose money on this year's crop. That could slow down the rural economy.

Grain Glut Could Hurt Rural Economies

Jan 15, 2015
Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media file photo

American farmers grew more corn and soybeans in 2014 than ever before, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s latest crop production report.

Kristofor Husted/Harvest Public Media

For the Midwest’s major crops, this harvest season was a big one. With winter setting in, the race is on for farmers to ship out their harvest so it’s not left out to spoil.

Justin Valas

The President's order to protect five million undocumented immigrants from deportation has been welcomed by some, condemned by others.

Tougher Times Put Young Farmers' Dreams on Hold

Nov 14, 2014
Abby Wendle/Harvest Public Media

Grant Curtis remembers the day he went shopping for his first tractor. “It was an eye opening experience,” he said.

Who Stole the Beans?

Nov 12, 2014
Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

It may not be a classic “Whodunnit” but the mystery of who stole soybeans from a field in western Illinois certainly has intrigue.

Amy Mayer/IPR

The Farm Bill enacted earlier this year was supposed to save taxpayers money, in part by reducing subsidy payments to farmers.

Grain farming gets more expensive

Nov 4, 2014
Abby Wendle/Harvest Public Media


Farming has gotten more expensive, according to data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). 

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

U.S. farmers are bringing in what’s expected to be a record-breaking harvest for both corn and soybeans. 

At Harvest, These Corn Huskers Still Pick By Hand

Oct 15, 2014
Abby Wendle/Harvest Public Media

Dick Humes squinted and sweat as he moved down a row of corn. He sliced through the husk with a metal hook in his right hand, snapped the ear from its stalk with his left, and threw it over his shoulder into a wagon rolling alongside him.

Every other second, the corn hit the floor of the wagon with a thud. Humes was setting a steady pace for the men’s 50-and-older division at the 34th annual Illinois State Corn Husking Competition.

Iowa Winegrowers Association

Iowa's grape harvest is underway in many parts of the state and the news from the field is not good. State Viticulturist Mike White says a cold and wet spring destroyed many of the vines and production statewide could be down between 30 and 40 percent. He says " there are some spots like Dubuque that seem to be fairing  better, but mostly the cold damage is there and the yield is low."

Clagett Farm CSA / Wikimedia, Creative Commons 2.0 Attribution License

Farmers' markets are hopping, CSA boxes are full to bursting, and gardens all over the state are starting to produce, but sometimes a bumper crop can be hard to handle. 

Melanie Hoffert / melaniehoffert.com

Melanie Hoffert grew up on a farm in North Dakota.  Like so many others, she left.  But now she feels torn between the land and people she loves and the freedom to live an authentic life.  Host Charity Nebbe talks with Hoffert about her memoir Prairie Silence: A Rural Ex-Patriot's Journey to Reconcile, Home, Love and Faith.  In that book, she describes the month she returned to her family farm to help her father and brother during harvest.  They also discuss what it was like to grow up as a gay woman in rural North Dakota.

Monster Machinery

Sep 26, 2013
IPR's Amy Mayer

The Iowa Department of Transportation is reporting 79 crashes and 5 fatalities involving farm equipment in 2013. Safety officials say drivers need to be alert especially at dusk and dawn when these huge machines tend to be more numerous. They also say farmers need to share responsibility by making sure motorists know when they're about to turn or make a sudden stop. Farmers are asked not to wave motorists by them, but instead pull off to the side of the road if possible.

If things went well in your vegetable garden this year you may find yourself elbow deep in home grown tomatoes.  Or maybe you have a tree that is loaded with apples or plums.  Host Charity Nebbe, talks with Horticulturists Linda Naeve and Richard Jauron about harvesting and storing your garden bounty.

Cover Crops Use Expanding

Oct 12, 2012
Amy Mayer

While many farmers were bringing in this year’s harvest, they also were planting.  Cover crops—like oats and winter rye—are becoming more popular, despite the time and expense involved in growing green fields that won’t ever make money—directly.  Together with Harvest Public Media, Iowa Public Radio’s Amy Mayer explains why.

Amy Mayer/Iowa Public Radio

After the dry summer, this harvest offers a good look at what drought resistant corn can do. In conjunction with Harvest Public Media, Iowa Public Radio’s Amy Mayer reports the big companies may soon be touting their results, but farmers may not rush to plant drought resistant seed next year. 

Dean Borg / Iowa Public Radio

With Halloween approaching, attention is turning to pumpkins. But not all pumpkin fields are filled with orange.

Coalescing around the Farm Bill

Sep 25, 2012
Amy Mayer

The current farm bill expires at the end of September and lawmakers won’t have a new one passed, thanks largely to election-year politics. Despite the partisan bickering in Washington, many in farm country are working together to keep their concerns on the front burner.

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

One of Iowa’s largest agribusiness companies has a huge investment riding on this year’s prolonged drought. A new hybrid seed corn developed by DuPont Pioneer is being touted for its ability to improve yields under the driest conditions.

Across the Corn Belt, farmers are hoping this fall’s harvest could be one for the record books. With planting season already off to a roaring start, farmers say they’re putting in more acres of corn than they have since the Great Depression.