Farmers are happy with the fall harvests and crop prices

November 24 – AMBOY – With corn and soybeans safely in grain bins, fields tilled and winter dormancy, the region’s farmers are looking back on a fall harvest that was better than many expected.

“In that area, everyone was happy with their yields,” said Tom Hoverstad, a research scientist at the University of Minnesota’s Southern Research and Outreach Center at Waseca.

“Corn was very good and we had some really good soybeans, although some (farmers) were a bit disappointed with soybeans.”

Caesar Larson, an Amboy-area farmer, said the dry weather made for a relatively quick harvest.

“We had a fantastic autumn. There are many reasons to be happy as a farmer this year,” said Larson.

Larson and Hoverstad said farmers in their areas generally achieved soybean yields in the mid-60s bushels per acre to as low as 70s bushels per acre. Corn yields have averaged in the 220 bushel range, with some yielding 240 bushels per acre.

Larson said yields in some corn fields have declined due to the lack of rain. “But overall the harvest was very good.”

Northern Blue Earth County and much of Nicollet County and western counties were much drier than other counties in the region.

In late October, Counties Nicollet, Le Sueur and Sibley were designated primary natural disaster areas due to drought, allowing farmers to apply for emergency loans to replace equipment, livestock or refinance certain debts.

Larson said the dry fall also created perfect conditions for fall tillage.

And crop prices remain high. Cash bids for corn this week were $6.75 a bushel and soybeans were $14.26 a bushel.

Hoverstad said rainfall for the calendar year, measured at Waseca, is 7.68 inches behind normal. “We were 4.6 inches behind at the end of September, so much of that deficit was later in the year.”

He said that despite the lack of rain in most areas, it rained in time and the soils here are good at retaining water.

“We have a lot of clay, a lot of organic material – the prairie soils. We have some sandy bottoms, but not much,” said Hoverstad.

And he is confident that soil moisture will be restored.

“Wet springs are normal here, so I think we have a good chance of adding a lot of soil moisture. We usually get 4 to 5 inches from mid-March to April.”

Winter snow generally does not contribute much to soil moisture. On average, every foot of snow contains about a tenth of an inch of water. And when the snow melts in spring, much of it runs off the frozen ground.

Hoverstad said the harvest was also supported this late summer and fall because there weren’t many temperature extremes.

“There weren’t many really hot days or cold nights.”