After a wet spring, a cool summer and now a cold, rainy fall, Missouri farmers need some warm, sunny weather for a successful harvest.

Missouri farmer Doug Wiesehan checks the progress of his soybean crop. (Photo by Tom Steever)

Missouri farmer Doug Wiesehan (Photo: Tom Steever)

Bill Wiebold, State Extention Specialist for soybeans and corn at the University of Missouri, says many crops were planted late because of rain-soaked soil most of the spring. Now, those plants are vulnerable to frost, which farmers are hoping stays away for a few more weeks.

Wiebold says another problem is that wet conditions have caused stalk rot in some corn crops. Soybeans, too, are suffering.

However, he says the crops are good this year … farmers just need dry conditions so the grain can dry out and so they can get combines out in the fields.

Many soybean fields were planted in mid July, he says, and a lot of corn in mid June. “Those fields had been negatively impacted and that makes them vulnerable to the frost,” he says. “Even if frost doesn’t come, there’s not much photosynthesis going on with the cold weather, particularly for late planted crops.”

Last year farmers also planted late, and we had a late frost, Wiebold says, but not the continually cool temps like this year that slowed development. Missouri also experienced more frequent rainfall in 2009. “This year, September and October have been very cool,” he says, which “slows down the drying process, either the soil or the seed or grain,” which is a big concern.

Wiebold says the average frost is around the third week of October, “But the problem with average is there is no such thing as ‘average’ in Missouri,” it can be much earlier or later.

“It may not matter when it occurs,” he says. “What matters is, can we get this great yield brought into the bin? We need dry weather to do that. Because of the way the year has stacked up, in many cases, this weather affecting farmers is wet weather and cool weather slowing down drying and not being able to get our combines out into the fields.”

Jessica Machetta reports [Download / listen, Mp3] harvestvaweb