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Published November 11, 2009, 12:00 AM

With the sun shining, area farmers making progress on harvest

WILLMAR — After waiting on the sidelines during the rainy, dreary month of October, area farmers are finally in the fields and making significant progress on the fall crop harvest.

By: Gretchen Schlosser, West Central Tribune

WILLMAR — After waiting on the sidelines during the rainy, dreary month of October, area farmers are finally in the fields and making significant progress on the fall crop harvest.

Area Farm Service Agency officials estimate that most of the soybean crop has now been harvested and producers are also pushing hard to get the corn and sugar beet crops out of the field.

“It’s been a struggle,” said Byron Hogberg, Farm Service Agency director in Renville County.

“Now, there is progress being made. People are taking advantage of the sunshine.”

On Tuesday morning, he estimated that 75 to 80 percent of the county’s soybeans had been harvested, 75 percent of the sugar beets had been lifted and about half of the corn crop had been combined.

The moisture content of the corn is dropping, Hogberg said, due to the ideal weather conditions. “It sure helped when the rains stopped and the sun came out.”

Larry Konsterlie, who farms with his father north of Willmar, was combining soybeans Tuesday morning. He estimated they had about 20 percent of that crop left to be harvested and were “going like gangbusters.”

“It’s been great to get more than one day,” he said, referencing the on-again, off-again harvesting conditions due to heavy rainfall throughout October. The beans were coming in at 12 percent moisture, dry enough to go directly into storage and yielding in the 45- to 50-bushel range.

Konsterlie had harvested some corn before returning to the beans and was hoping the corn crop would be 25 to 26 percent moisture or less, lowering drying costs, when he returned to continue that harvest.

According to the weekly crop weather report from the Minnesota office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service, 4.8 days of last week were suitable for fieldwork. During the previous four weeks, farmers had 2.5 days or less fit for fieldwork per week.

As of Sunday, 77 percent of the state’s soybean crop had been harvested, a 21 percent jump from the week prior, but still 22 points less than the 98 percent five-year average.

Sugar beets were 92 percent harvested, compared to the 99 percent five-year average.

The corn crop was 23 percent in the bin, compared to 12 percent the week prior, 72 percent last year and a five-year average of 83 percent.

Kandiyohi County farmers are moving fast to finish the soybean harvest, according to Wes Nelson, director of the Farm Service Agency in the county. On Tuesday afternoon, he estimated 90 percent of the crop had been harvested.

Producers are also making headway on the corn crop, he said, which still requires some drying due to high moisture content. While yields are good, some of the crop has lower test weights due to the cool growing season and drying. Some producers are finding mold on their corn, he added, but there haven’t been widespread reports of that crop damage.

Nelson urged farmers to keep their safety in mind, even as they push to get the crop out before winter hits. “Everyone is pushing, their backs are against the wall.”

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