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Northwest Minnesota corn and soybean fields 'luckier than most' to receive sporadic rain

The corn and soybean fields in Hawley, Minnesota, were a few of the lucky acres in the region to receive the elusive, yet much needed sporadic rain showers.

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Going up and down the region looking at this year’s corn and soybean crop, the fields that received the sporadic and much needed timely rains are clear. A corn and soybean field nestled in Hawley, Minnesota, makes it evident that they received the additional moisture that many acres were not lucky enough to receive.

“In this area we have been a little luckier than most. We have had a bit more rain than most fields in this area. With that being said, we’re still 3 to 5 inches behind average,” Derek Haug, U.S. district sales manager for Thunder Seed, said on the Agweek Corn and Soybean Tour on Aug. 7, 2021.

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Derek Haug, a U.S. district sales manager for Thunder Seed, examines one of the ears of corn in this 6888 variety field. Photo taken September 7, 2021 in Hawley, Minnesota. (Emily Beal / Agweek)

Some tools in farmers' toolboxes that helped them this year combat the dry conditions were certain varieties that are created to withstand difficult weather conditions. In the field that Agweek visited, this was the case. The variety of corn planted was 6888, a variety created to withstand conditions like the ones producers have been experiencing this growing season.

"It does really well in poor and variable conditions and really well in excellent conditions too. It’s a variety that we can put across a lot of different acres and get really good yield with” Haug said. “All around a good variety for any acre you want to plant it on.”

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The corn crop in the area appears to be performing well given its growing conditions. Photo taken September 7, 2021 in Hawley, Minnesota. (Emily Beal / Agweek)

The field itself has had to withstand extreme heat with less than ideal rainfall. The area recorded brutal temperatures for about two weeks, in the upper 80s and 90s. With the extra heat units absorbed by the soil and the plants, it has pushed harvest season up earlier than a typical year. Haug predicted that the field will be harvested in the next two to three weeks.

As far as potential yield, despite the excessive heat and low precipitation, the corn has performed well and is expected to have a yield around 170 to 180.

“It’s been a really warm and dry summer this year, and as you can see behind me it has stood up really well for the condition it has been in,” Haug said.

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The soybean crop took the excessive heat and lack of moisture harder than the corn crop in the area did. The soybean crop being shorter than average an maturing at a much faster rate than in a normal year. Photo taken September 7, 2021 in Hawley, Minnesota. (Emily Beal / Agweek)

While the soybeans are performing well given the poor conditions, they have not endured the heat as well as the corn crop in the area. The soybean crop is coming out shorter than normal and maturing at a much faster rate. Haug predicts the yield of the field to be around 30 to 35 and the producer will begin taking samples from it at the end of the week.

Luckily the soybean field was not impacted by the last spring frost that much of the region experienced. However, just a couple miles down the road there were multiple soybean fields that had to be replanted due to being zapped by the late frost.

Though the dry weather was not ideal, it did help mitigate common diseases, such as white mold, and insect infestations. The heavy smoke in the atmosphere that was the outcome of many wild fires, such as the ones in Canadian territories, offered the crops some much needed shade. The smoke helped bring down the overall temperature by five to ten degrees, a welcomed change for the crops.

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As Haug has been talking to his growers, he has found that many are pleasantly surprised with checking their fields with how the crop has withstood all the difficult conditions thrown in their way.

“I think everybody is holding out hope that it’s gonna be a little bit better than expected,” Haug said.

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