Fluctuating weather concerns Johnson County farmers

After a summer of little rain, Johnson County farmers are waiting to see how their crops yield. The weather has made it difficult to judge how the crops are growing and is a worrisome aspect of the upcoming harvest.


Jeff Sigmund

Johnson County farmer Darrell Schulte combining corn on Wednesday, Sept.15,.2021. Schulte began his corn harvest early this year.

Kate Perez, News Reporter

The fluctuating weather in Johnson County and its surrounding area has created uncertainty in local farmers regarding the well-being of their crops.

The weather has been a concern, especially the little amount of rain, said Steve Swenka, farmer and rancher of Double G Angus Farms in Tiffin.

“I think I saw the latest forecast numbers were between six and a half and seven inches below normal for the year so far,” Swenka said. “We’re just on the doorstep of beginning harvest. We’re just waiting to see how the drought conditions will impact our crops.”

The essential part to his farm and ranch is having enough pasture for his cattle, he said.

“All summer long we didn’t have a lot of rain, but [it] came in a timely manner,” Swenka said. “So far the pastures have been holding on pretty good.”

According to the Iowa Corn Growers Association website, Iowa farmers begin harvesting corn by mid-September and October.

Darrell Schulte, who has cornfields near Swisher, said that the weather has been a concern for him as well with the lack of rain.

“Where the ground is good, the corn is good, where the ground is dry the corn is weak,” he said. “You have differences from one field to another, even right close to each other.”

The Archer Daniels Midland Corn Processing Division of Cedar Rapids, a dry corn milling plant, is taking the crops that are being harvested now despite the weather, Schulte said.

Johnson County farmer Darrell Schulte takes a break from combining for a picture on Wednesday, Sept.15,.2021. Schulte was working in one of his fields near Swisher, Ia.(Jeff Sigmund/Daily Iowan) (Jeff Sigmund)

“I don’t even have to take [the crops] to my place and unload it, dry it and load it back up and take it to them, they are doing the drying themselves,” Schulte said.

Don Jansa, Schulte’s brother, added, “They are also paying a dollar more per bushel, even wet like this as long as we get it there by Sunday.”

New Pioneer Food Co-op in Cedar Rapids, Coralville, and Iowa City are doing well with their amounts of produce amidst the fluctuating weather, said Produce Manager Mike Krogh.

“I can’t think of any specific items that were lacking because of weather related issues,” Krogh said. “In August we went for a good spell without any rain. I haven’t noticed any issues with supplies coming in.”

The beginning of the harvesting season is when farmers will be able to identify how their crops are doing, Swenka said.

“It’s hard to believe the crops look as good as they do for a relatively small amount of rain we did receive over the summer,” Swenka said. “We’re still optimistic. We’re hoping for a bountiful harvest.”

Jeff Sigmund contributed to this report.