‘It’s devastating’ – Flooding washes out Minnesota corn, soybean crops

Published 10:03 am Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Corn stands in a field filled with water just south of Austin June 19. Herald file photo

Corn stands in a field filled with water just south of Austin June 19. Herald file photo

MINNEAPOLIS — Storms have washed out corn and soybean crops in parts of Minnesota, leaving farmers with few replanting options.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s weekly crop report, 53 percent of Minnesota’s farm fields have surplus topsoil moisture, and 49 percent have surplus subsoil moisture.

The report says crop conditions declined during the week due to excess moisture and standing water. Many farmers have been unable to get equipment into their fields.

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Most crops are in the ground, but 35 percent of the corn and 41 percent of soybeans are in very poor, poor or fair condition.

State Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson has toured some of the areas in southern Minnesota with crop damage. He said it’s still too early to know how many acres across the state have been affected. But Rock County in southwestern Minnesota is certainly one of the worst, with 100,000 of its 250,000 tillable acres destroyed or severely damaged by flooding and hail.

“It is devastating,” Frederickson said. “Soybean fields where you could normally see green rows now look like a plowed field: totally black. Corn had a little bit of a stalk sticking out on some of the most severely damaged areas or not there at all, just pounded into the dirt. So that’s done.”

The challenge facing farmers is that it is too late to replant corn because of its long growing season, and almost too late to replant soybeans, Frederickson said.

He estimated that between 80 and 90 percent of farmers in the damaged areas are covered by some form of crop insurance.

“That is not an incentive to lose a crop,” Frederickson said, but the insurance payments in most cases should be enough to cover the cost of seed, fuel and fertilizer needed for 2015 planting.

“You’re not going to be forced out of business because you had a bad year,” he said.

Paul Henning, who farms about 800 acres of corn and 800 acres of soybeans in Jackson County near Okabena, plans to salvage as much as possible this season. He was showing one of his soybean fields to two insurance adjusters Monday afternoon.

Nearly all of the field just a half-mile north of Interstate 90 was underwater two weeks ago, but dried out enough for him to replant 125 acres with soybeans last Thursday.

“We did as much as we could and got as close to the water as we could,” he said. “I still have another 25 or 30 acres I’d like to replant, but the season is getting shorter, and I don’t like to plant after July 4.”