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'We could not ask for anything better' | Early corn harvests promise record yields, but it's not time to relax

After a cold and rainy spring, near-perfect summer growing conditions have led to a banner corn year. But area farmers say that good news might not last.

MUSCATINE COUNTY, Iowa — Despite a cold and rainy spring, early corn harvests are showing some of the best yields in recent memory. But local farmers say with rising input costs, not even a banner crop leaves much room to relax. 

The first early corn crops began coming out of fields around the end of September. While parts of south and western Iowa have been hit with droughts, around the Quad Cities, weather conditions have been nearly ideal. 

Up in the combine, Jason Norton is now feeling optimistic for this year's harvest. 

"Overall, we could not ask for anything better," Norton said. He farms around Scott and Muscatine Counties. 

After a wet and chilly April delayed this year's planting season into May, the summer brought timely, consistent rains and ideal temperatures for corn and soybeans. 

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"We feel very blessed around here," Norton said. "I think we have a chance to have our best yields we've ever had. So that's exciting for us to see." 

When News 8 caught up with him just outside of Muscatine, he was working on about 60 acres of early corn. The smell of fallen corn hung sweetly in the air as the combine diligently passed through row after row. 

Nearby, Robb Ewoldt waited beside his semi, ready to haul the next load into the elevator. 

"In this particular area, we're seeing average to above average yield," Ewoldt said. "It looks like it's going to be a good harvest for us. I would say it's every bit as good as it was last year. And last year was an exceptional year for us." 

Right now, local farmers are averaging around $7 a bushel for early corn. It's a good price, combined with a great yield. 

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"It's an exciting time," Ewoldt noted. "We start our planning in November and December, for what we're going to grow. And then it takes us until October the next year to finally see the end results of our labor." 

But despite the good news now, it might not be so rosy going forward.

Input costs, throughout the entire farming operation, have been steadily rising. Now, everything from fertilizer to seeds to spare tractor parts are becoming more expensive. 

"A lot of our input costs have gone up 40, 50, 60, 70%. So all that money that's been made this year, we need to save to be able to put a crop in next year," Ewoldt noted. "So it's not as great as one would think." 

That added cost creates an added pressure, to get as much out of every kernel as possible. 

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"It really does make you nervous that you need to have the yields and you need to have the prices where they are now, to be able to sustain in farming," Norton said. "It is really hard to stay ahead. So when you have the good years, you need to be able to do as much as you can with them. Because you know the tougher years are coming." 

But for now, these farmers say that's what they're focused on: doing as much as they can, row after row. 

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