Southern Minnesota farmers see excellent corn, soybean yields

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WORTHINGTON, Minn. — With combines across the region still working through fields of corn, farmers have found it slow going as they harvest what appears to be another bumper crop.

Rural Bigelow, Minn., farmer Matt Russell wrapped up harvest late last week. He said corn yields are about 10 percent better than last year, while soybean yields were slightly lower, though still good at 50 to 65 bushels per acre.

“It was a phenomenal crop,” Russell said. “On average, I would say Nobles County is seeing 200-bushel-plus corn and 50- to 60-bushel soybeans.”

Yields ranged considerably between farm fields across the region due to severe weather events during the growing season, ranging from high winds to hail and tornadoes.

“There was a lot of hail through this Bigelow to Rushmore area,” Russell said, noting an impact to soybean yields of 10 to 15 bushels per acre. Corn loss was evident as well, with some farmers seeing up to a 70 bushel per acre loss.

“That hail and the tornado … it was pretty devastating to some crops,” he added.

Rains — first too much at planting time, then not enough in July, and excess rains in August and October — also caused problems.

“We had 10 inches of rain in the beginning of October and had to wait for the fields to dry up,” said Kevin Zimmermann, location manager for Meadowland Farmers Elevator at Westbrook, Minn. After the rains came the cold, which didn’t allow for the corn crop to dry down.

In the Westbrook area, Zimmermann said corn is coming in at 18 to 20 percent moisture, which requires elevators to keep the grain dryers in operation.

“There’s a lot of corn that needs to be dried yet,” Russell said. “The elevators are full of wet corn.”

Zimmermann said harvest in the Westbrook area should wrap up by the end of this week — if Mother Nature cooperates. Overall, he said farmers are pretty happy with the yields. Some said bean yields were about 12 to 15 percent less than last year, while corn yields were averaging more than 200 bushels per acre.

“They’re not complaining,” Zimmermann said of the farmers.

In western Rock County, Pete Bakken said he was among the producers to get crops harvested earlier than most. As a cattle producer, he harvested a lot of high-moisture corn for feed.

Now, he just wants the stalks in the field to dry out so he can go in and bale it.

“There’s a lot of bales that aren’t made that need to be made,” Bakken said.

Corn yields in his area ranged from 200 to 240 bushels per acre, while soybeans averaged in the mid-60 bushels per acre.

“In our area, we were less than last year, but not by much,” Bakken said. “We had an excellent crop.”

Yields, though, can vary greatly from one farm to the next, and even within a field.

“I know there was frustration with various varieties in … dry corn harvest,” Bakken said, noting that on some of the windiest days of harvest, corn stalks just fell down before he could even reach them with the combine.

Russell, too, said there were issues this fall, from stalk rot and crown rot in corn to white mold in soybeans.

“There was a lot of standability problems,” he added.

Across Minnesota, 60 percent of the corn harvest was complete as of Sunday, Nov. 5, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Minnesota Crop Progress report. This is 12 days behind the five-year average.

In Iowa, 67 percent of corn and 92 percent of soybeans were in the bin, reported Mike Naig, Iowa Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, on Monday.

“Corn harvest remains nine days behind the five-year average and beans are six days behind,” Naig said. “Hopefully we can get a couple of more weeks of agreeable weather to allow farmers to finish harvest and complete other fall field work.”