Year in Review: Minnesota farmers enjoy record 2015 harvests
Year in Review: Farmers enjoy record 2015 harvestsWORTHINGTON, Minn. -- "It was the best of times. It was the worst of times." That line, made famous by Charles Dickens in "A Tale of Two Cities," may be how farmers describe the 2015 crop producti...
Year in Review: Farmers enjoy record 2015 harvests
WORTHINGTON, Minn. - “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.”
That line, made famous by Charles Dickens in “A Tale of Two Cities,” may be how farmers describe the 2015 crop production season.
Crop producers across southwest Minnesota and northwest Iowa harvested their highest ever yields in corn and soybeans this fall, thanks in part to a moderate growing season with timely rains and continued improvements in crop genetics.
Yet, as farmers watched their bumper crops mature in the fields, they witnessed a somewhat steady decline in crop prices.
The closing market prices paid at Worthington on Dec. 23 were $3.28 for corn and $8.22 for soybeans. That compares to $3.82 for corn and $9.89 for beans on the same date in 2014; $4.16 and $12.86 in 2013; $7.01 and $14.12 (on Dec. 21) 2012; and $5.96 and $11.15 on Dec. 23, 2011.
Low commodity prices were coupled by higher input costs and higher land rents.
In its annual crop year review, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Minnesota Crop Progress Review noted that the 2015 planting season started just slightly behind average, but good weather conditions fueled progress quickly to surpass the five-year average.
The review noted that 45 percent of the state’s corn crop was planted during the week ending May 3, bringing total acres planted to 83 percent complete - 19 days ahead of average. Corn condition as of Oct. 18 reached its highest ranking ever at 89 percent good to excellent. By Nov. 15, 99 percent of corn acreage was harvested, one week ahead of normal.
Soybean planting got off to a great start, the review stated, noting that 70 percent of the crop was planted by May 10 statewide. That’s the highest percentage planted by that date in more than 50 years.
Like the state’s corn crop, soybean condition at harvest was looking good, with 82 percent of the crop rated in good to excellent condition. The review noted that as of Oct. 25, 99 percent of the soybean acreage was harvested, one week ahead of normal.
Dan Uttech, feed ingredient purchasing manager for New Vision Cooperative in Brewster, called this year’s harvest phenomenal.
“It’s hard to find farmers all across the state that aren’t saying this is the best-ever soybean crop they’ve ever raised,” Uttech said in mid-October. “A lot of guys are probably going to harvest the best corn crop that they ever have off their land, and we’re talking farmers that have been farming all their life.”
A lot of corn fields produced yields of 200-plus bushels per acre, though the state projected an average at 184 bushels per acre - breaking the previous record of 177 bushels per acre.
“When you set a new record for an entire state by seven bushels per acre, it’s a big deal,” Uttech said. “It just shows how good the crop is.”
The soybean crop was also a record-breaker. Locally, Uttech said farmers saw yields of 60- to 65-bushel per acre range, with some fields yielding 70 bushels per acre.
“This is going to be a very, very big year for the state of Minnesota as far as new record yields on both corn and soybeans,” summed Uttech.