Harvest and Irrigation Outlook for Fall in Western Nebraska

Dry bean combine harvesting field
Dry bean harvest with a Pickett specialty dry bean combine. (Photo by Gary Stone)

Harvest and Irrigation Outlook for Fall in Western Nebraska

Harvest in the Panhandle is progressing well, although some crops are behind in harvest. Winter wheat for the 2024 growing season has been planted since mid-September, and emergence is looking good at this time. 

The sugarbeet harvest started in September and is in full swing. Harvest should be completed by the end of the month. Cooler weather is required to help prevent overheating in the sugarbeet piles and reduce pile loss. The estimated harvest tonnage is 28 tons per acre, with a sugar content of 17.5%. Producers are paid for the sugar produced. Some fields were affected by Cercospora leaf spot this season, leading to a decrease in tonnage and sugar content. 

The dry edible bean harvest is nearing completion. Harvest of dry beans has been delayed due to hailstorms and replanting earlier this growing season. Yields from those fields are down. Expected yields this season are approximately 38-40 bushels per acre. Dry bean harvest should be completed within the next several weeks, providing the weather holds.

Corn harvest has just started, but corn for silage was completed several weeks ago. Corn harvest for grain is just commencing, while growers are waiting for the grain to reach the proper moisture content. Yields may be down slightly from last year due to the hailstorms received across the growing area.

Most irrigation concluded on Sept. 15, when water withdrawals from the North Platte River ceased. Water amounts in the Pathfinder and Seminoe reservoirs are at 63% capacity and 66% capacity, respectively (North Platte River – Multi-use Water series).

Going into the 2024 growing season, there is a respectable amount of water in the reservoirs. Snow is starting to fall in the Snowy Mountain and Siera Madre ranges to start the winter snowpack and runoff for the next year.

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A field of corn.