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Published September 03, 2009, 12:00 AM

Farmers: Crop still has potential

WILLMAR — The corn and soybean crops still have potential to make good yields this fall, all that’s needed is warm fall days and a later first frost.

By: Gretchen Schlosser, West Central Tribune

WILLMAR — The corn and soybean crops still have potential to make good yields this fall, all that’s needed is warm fall days and a later first frost.

Considering the conditions this year’s crop has endured — dry conditions in June and July, lots of moisture in August and cool temperatures over the entire summer — there is still lots of potential for a good crop, said Larry Konsterlie, who raises corn and soybeans near Willmar.

“We need a good September, with decent temperatures, and we need to keep the frost away,” he said.

Konsterlie estimates the crops are 10 days behind normal development. Farmers will have the extra expense of drying the corn crop, he added, which could run 180 to 200 bushels per acre.

The soybean crop could yield between 45 and 50 bushels per acre. That is, if the growing season is extended by a later frost, he stressed.

Wes Nelson, executive director of the Farm Service Agency office in Kandiyohi County, echoed Konsterlie’s statements. Willmar is 171 “growing degree” days behind normal crop development — about two weeks. While the crops look good, thanks to the August rains, the frost needs to hold off. The average first 28-degree night is Oct. 3 for Willmar.

“It’s a race to the finish line now,” Nelson said. “We will need all of September to be frost-free to get the crop home.”

Crops in the Clarkfield area need rain and warmer days and nights, according to Doug Albin, who farms in that area. He is hoping for 80- to 85-degree days and 65-degree nights, instead of 45-degree nighttime temperatures. “The cool nights aren’t helping the corn along.”

He estimated the corn in that area to be two weeks behind the normal development. The crops look good, and have the potential to make good yields, he said. “We have the potential for an outstanding crop.”

“Outstanding” is also how Albin described the spring wheat harvest. Both yield and quality were high this year, with yields ranging from 55 to 74 bushels an acre and the grain running excellent test weights and 14 to 15 percent protein.

The weekly crop weather report echoes the area farmers’ statements — the state’s crops are well behind the five-year averages. Corn should be, by the five-year average, 50 percent dented. This week, only 7 percent is dented, with 52 percent in the dough stage. The five-year average for dough stage is 79 percent.

As of Sunday, only 2 percent of the state’s soybean crop had started turning yellow, compared to 24 percent on average. But, the bean crop is rated as 69 percent good or excellent. The corn crop is rated as 73 percent good or excellent.

University of Minnesota crop specialist David Nicolai was walking a research plot Tuesday afternoon south of Bird Island and reported that some later relative maturity corn is going to need all of September to reach physiological maturity. How far crops are behind depends on the situation, he added, some fields are seven to 10 days behind normal due to cooler days and nights.

Nicolai expects to see a wide range of corn yields this fall, due to variability in rainfall and pollination. Soybeans, he said, could yield 40 to 50 bushels an acre, even in dry areas.

He urged farmers to get out in the fields and check their soybeans, as some varieties, under stress, are showing the disease impact of brown stem rot, white mold or sudden death syndrome.

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