Husker Harvest Days

Ready for a demo, a line of tractors are lined up in front of an AGI grain bin Monday at the Husker Harvest Days site west of Grand Island.

GRAND ISLAND - Now in its 42nd year in Grand Island, Husker Harvest Days is open for business for the next three days. Matt Jungmann, national events manager for Farm Progress, said this year’s show is bigger and better than ever.

Despite the ongoing concerns farmers and ranchers have about their industry, Jungmann said this year’s show reflects the typical optimism of producers and the ag industry about the future, especially regarding new technologies.

Farm Progress recently conducted a farm show in Decatur, Ill.

“It was fantastic,” Jungmann said about the Illinois show. “We came into the show a little apprehensive, not knowing what we were going to have in front of us because the ag economy is tough and they had a really hard spring there (Illinois).”

With weather problems the Midwest and Great Plains states were having this year, he said Nebraska’s weather, from a cold winter to torrential rains and flooding in the spring and summer, has been worse.

“It has been really something what these growers in Nebraska have been through this year,” Jungmann said.

Despite their concern about the size of the crowds the Illinois show was going to draw, he said, “The optimism of farmers won out, and we had huge crowds. I think it has everything to do with folks wanting to put 2019 in the rearview mirror and taking the first steps for planning the 2020 crops.”

For many who go to Husker Harvest Days, Jungmann said, their visit is about planning for the future. While they’re several weeks away from the beginning of harvest time, many farmers are looking ahead to next year even though uncertainty lies ahead for this year’s crop.

The latest AccuWeather 2019 crop production analysis affirms the belief that 2019 will be a down year for corn and soybean production, both in terms of quantity and quality.

AccuWeather analysts predict the 2019 corn yield will be 13.36 billion bushels, compared to 14.42 billion in 2018, while the soybean yield will be 3.658 billion bushels, compared to 4.543 billion bushels last year.

Their analysis would be the lowest corn yield since 2012, a year of significant drought that saw corn production drop to 10.76 billion bushels. It would also be the smallest soybean yield since the 3.357-billion-bushel yield in 2013.

But despite the weather concerns, the technological yield that will be on display at HHD this year helps farmers plan on how to use emerging technology to deal with those uncertainties.

“Whether it is a row crop farmer or a beef producer or a cow/calf producer or a feedlot operator, we want to make sure that we are doing everything that we can to provide a good template for these exhibitors to show their wares,” Jungmann said.

Over the 42 years of the show, he said, “It is fantastic to watch the evolution of the agricultural industry.”

Farm equipment displayed in 1978 at the first HHD now looks primitive, compared to what will be on display at the show this year. In those 42 years, the amount of farmland and the number of farmers have diminished, but the amount of food and fiber they harvest each year has grown dramatically.

What may have been science fiction 42 years ago is now a reality, such as autonomous farm equipment that can be operated by producers remotely, and will become more commonplace at the show in years to come.

Jungmann said there will be about 600 exhibitors at the show this year.

“I think these exhibitors are excited because we had a good Farm Progress show in Illinois,” he said.

Many of the same exhibitors who were in Illinois will also have exhibits at HHD.

And Jungmann said the HHD grounds are in good shape as the $7 million in grounds improvements, completed before last year’s show, have paid big dividends through this year’s weather difficulties.

Without the improved roads, the new drainage system and burying of the electrical infrastructure, Jungmann said, putting on this year’s show would have been complicated.

The show will get underway with mostly sunny skies Tuesday, with a high near 84, according to the National Weather Service in Hastings. Winds will be from the south-southeast at 5 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph. There is a 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms Tuesday night, with a low of about 69. South winds will be at about 10 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph overnight.

For Wednesday, there’s a 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after 1 p.m. Otherwise, it will be sunny, with a high near 86. Winds will be from the south at 10 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 30 mph. Showers and thunderstorms are likely Wednesday night, mainly after 1 a.m., with a low of about 65. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New rainfall amounts between a half and three-quarters of an inch are possible.

On Thursday, there is a 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms before 1 p.m. It will be mostly sunny, with a high near 76.

Jungmann said the 2019 HHD will be the “Year of the Tractor” as many of the show’s farm equipment dealers and manufacturers will be introducing new lines of equipment that have been in development for several years.

“All up and down the line will be new tractors from almost everybody,” he said. “There is going to be all-new looks and feels for everything.”

The farm show ill be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday. For more information, visit the HHD website at www.huskerharvestdays.com.

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