SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU)– Due to insufficient rain and multiple heat waves across Northwest Iowa, farmers are starting their harvest process already, resulting in more machinery on the roadways.

“We started out really low on soil moisture and we knew that, and then we had a rough emergence period, and then as crops started to run out of moisture we started seeing a lot more pest and diseases come into our crops,” said Leah Ten Napel, Iowa State University Extension And Outreach field agronomist.

According to Leah Ten Napel, with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, she expects this year’s harvest to be similar to 2022’s.

“As you see when you drive through the country a lot of our crops are starting to turn already,” said Ten Napel. 

Despite the harvest season officially starting in October, farmers see the writing on the walls and know if they don’t act fast they could lose more crops.

“So I’ve heard a range of yields already from growers who have been chopping silage and getting yield estimates through that. We’ve heard a range, some really good, some pretty poor and I think that’s what we’ve seen the last couple of years in these drought conditions and what we’ll see again this year,” Ten Napel.

With farmers expected to be back on the roads, local law enforcement officials want to remind residents to keep an eye out for farm equipment while driving.

“If you do encounter a piece of farm equipment or a tractor on the roadway, always give ’em some distance. make sure that if you’re gonna pass you do so safely, look for oncoming traffic, a lot of time those big tractors might not see you so make sure if you are passing you’re using your signals,” said Sergeant Thomas Gill, with the  Sioux City Police Department.

“Strongly encourage farmers to make sure they have all of their slow-moving vehicle signs on, their reflective lights on nice and clean, and encourage them to use hand signals when they’re on the road if possible,” said Ten Napel.

According to the latest report from the U.S.D.A., both corn and soybeans have had the percentage of crops rated “good” or better decline to under 50% in the last month.