Crop yields dry up in warm weather

Published 10:37 am Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Rain clouds move in over a corn field Tuesday morning, bringing much-needed precipitation to the area. -- Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Conditions are still favorable in Sargeant area

Though another week of warm temperatures and limited rain helped corn mature in northern parts of Minnesota, dry conditions in this area have brought the growing season to an end.

Most corn has filled, but rain can still help the bean pods mature for the next few weeks, area farmers said. Still, some farmers have lowered their projections of above-average yields to just average.

“We’ve definitely been hurt with dry weather through July and August,” said Jon Hillier, agronomist with Northern Country Co-Op in Rose Creek. He said the area has gone through the driest July and August of the past 55 years.

“We are basically 25 to 50 percent of normal rain,” he said.

From the Sargeant area to West Concord, however, conditions have still been favorable.

“(Farmers) don’t think it’s going to be a bumper, but they don’t think it’s going to be too bad,” said Don Larson of the Sargeant Grain Elevator. He added the soil in that area has retained more moisture than other areas and is currently at 37 percent. That trend is not consistent throughout southern Minnesota, though.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, in its weekly crop weather report Monday, warned of precipitation shortfalls in the southern third of Minnesota. Seven percent of topsoil moisture was rated as very short; 22 percent was short, 64 percent was adequate and 7 percent was at a surplus — a decline from a week ago.

Spring wheat was 77 percent harvested, surpassing the five-year average of 76 percent.

Oats were 90 percent harvested, compared to a 91 percent average, while barley was 76 percent harvested, compared with an 83 percent average.

Corn condition ratings were 24 percent fair and 51 percent good, a slight decrease. Soybean condition ratings fell slightly to 26 percent fair and 50 percent good.

According to Larson, it’s tough to predict the size of beans throughout the region, though. “No one really knows what’s out there until you get out there,” he said.

Though Hillier initially expected corn farmers to harvest late this year because of late planting, that prediction has changed, too.

“If anything, it will be on time or early now,” He said.

Larson added farmers in his area will be harvesting corn in about a month — either on time or early, depending on each type of corn.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.