Washed with concern; Farmers evaluate crops after heavy rains inundate the area

Published 10:51 am Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Area farmers are assessing potential damage to crops from last week’s heavy rains.

The storms led to wet fields and flooding in central and southern Minnesota, and some farmers are concerned about mold in corn and soybeans, stalk problems in corn and rot caused by wet soil.

Jerry Demmer, a farmer in Clarks Grove, on Tuesday said it’s a “wait and see” game for him as he has to wait until the ground dries out enough to get out and look at potential damage.

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He said he has had a lot of drain tile put in, so he is more fortunate than in previous years before that was the case.

He noted, however, he did have some standing water in low-lying areas. In areas where soybeans were underwater, there is the potential they could be moldy and not harvestable.

“We’ll have to wait and see once we get in there,” he said.

He anticipated he would begin harvesting either later this week or next, though some farmers have already begun. Despite the potential for some loss, he anticipated to still have a good harvest. 

Grand Meadow area farmer Marlin Fay said the effects of recent rainfall on local crops has been minimal.

“There was not a huge effect in terms of damage on crops,” Fay said. “As long as we don’t see much more rain the crops should stay in good condition.”

According to Fay, the rain may delay harvest a bit, but the overall effect of this year’s abundance of rain is positive on the crops.

“Thanks to all the rain we have had this year, I’m expecting yields to be very high this year.” Fay said.

Glenville farmer Zach Adams said he hasn’t seen many problems thus far in his crop, other than in a few isolated areas.

Adams said where most of the flooding took place, the water remained below the ears of corn, and he thinks it is still early enough that the weather can improve.

“Time will tell what the extent of the soybeans are where they were underwater,” he said, estimating that about 5 percent of his soybeans were underwater.

“I’m optimistic that what damages we do have, it’s going to be a small percentage of it,” Adams said, noting he hoped the weather would stay dry and warm.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Minnesota Farm Service Agency on Tuesday reminded farmers and ranchers that federal farm program benefits may be available to help eligible producers recover from recent heavy rains and flooding.

“These significant rain and flood events in Minnesota have left extensive damage in their wake,” said Grant Herfindahl, FSA executive director.

FSA offers disaster assistance and low-interest loan programs to assist producers in their recovery efforts.

To establish FSA program eligibility, farmers and ranchers must report prevented planting and failed acres.

For more information on disaster assistance programs and loans visit www.fsa.usda.gov or contact the local FSA office.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, only 3.1 days were suitable for fieldwork during the week that ended Sunday.

Minnesota’s corn crop is maturing ahead of average. Seventy percent of corn acreage was mature, six days ahead of the five-year average and three days ahead of last year.

Eighty-three percent of soybeans were dropping leaves, three days ahead of average. The soybean harvest is behind average, at 13 percent complete.

— The Austin Daily Herald’s Nate Brinkman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.