Gallery: Fall harvest wraps up

[imagebrowser id=1792]

Despite the most erratic growing season in years, fall harvest is looking better than some farmers anticipated.

Though crop production will undoubtedly lag behind last year’s success, farmers are upbeat that they are past all the weather-related agony.

“For everything that we’ve been through, it’s amazing what’s out there,” said Robert Nelson about the quality of soybeans and corn in his fields near Alden.

He and others in the area were surprised to see crops weren’t as poor as anticipated.

To top off a late spring planting, dry summer, extreme hot spell and early freeze, Nelson saw fierce winds tip over a lot of corn.

“There are places where it is just flat,” he said, and added, “The better the yield, the worse it blew down.”

Somehow, Nelson said, the stalks held on while he harvested last week.

“In past years, it never would have held itself, it would have just snapped off,” he said.

Farmers near Austin experienced high winds, but not as severely. Yet the weather threw farmers one last curve ball when crop fires became a serious concern the past two weeks. Several fires in southeastern Minnesota were reported during multiple, unseasonable 80-degree days.

“We had a couple of small fires ourselves, but we caught them before they burned anything,” said Corey Hansen, a farmer near Austin.

For farms farther west, Nelson said, “The guys that have been fighting (fires), they say it has just been like gas out there.”

Even after fire, wind and one of the shortest growing seasons in years, yields were only reduced slightly in many fields. Though the hottest portion of summer caused corn to mature too quickly and left some ears without full kernels, farmers were fortunate. From Sargeant and north of that area, much of the soil retained moisture, even during the driest portion of the summer. Nelson’s crops, despite drying and blowing down, held strong.

“I think I can equal last year’s yields, believe it or not,” he said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture projects Minnesota’s average yields to trail last year’s, however. In it’s most recent crop production reports, the USDA forecasts 165 bushels per acre of corn throughout the state — that’s 12 bushels per acre fewer than last year’s average, and 30 million fewer bushels statewide.

But if there were one crop that had the odds stacked against it, it was soybeans. After September’s early freeze, much of the Midwest beans shut down growth.

“Then it froze, and it just looked like it was going to be a disaster,” Nelson said about early bean projections, but he changed his perspective after he started picking several weeks ago. “Then it didn’t look quite so bad.”

Area farmers mentioned the quality of beans varied greatly throughout portions of their fields.

Hansen said his worst bean field produced about 38 bushels per acre, but his best field produced nearly 62. Though he also thought beans were going to be bad several weeks ago, he was pleasantly surprised. Overall, Hansen’s production won’t trail last year’s by too much.

The USDA predicts Minnesota’s soybean yields to fall to about 41 bushels per acre, on average. That’s four bushels fewer than last year’s average. Though that may not seem like much, overall state production could trail last year by 41.5 million bushels, as many farmers planted much more corn because of its record high price.

That may have been a smart move.

“I think guys will be generally more pleased with corn than soybeans,” said Jon Hillier, agronomist at Northern Country Co-Op in Rose Creek.

Not only did corn fare better than beans, its price was slightly more stable near harvest time.

In the past weeks, corn prices fell as much as $1.50 cents, while beans dropped more than $3.

“Three dollars is a real big drop — that’s scary,” Hansen said, and mentioned he remembers when beans only fluctuated 50 cents in an entire year.

However, some expect prices to return to where they were this summer, at roughly $7 per bushel of corn and $13 per bushel of beans.

Hansen and Nelson didn’t try to summarize the market or give explanations about its fluctuations. They don’t know exactly what will happen.

“It’s not supply and demand. … It’s more of when you can live with your decision to buy or sell,” Nelson said.

If prices rise again, however, that may be the only factor to compete with Mother Nature this year. Sam Ziegler, director of marketing programs at Minnesota Soybean, said the situation could have been worse.

“At least we’re not getting hit with low prices and a low yield,” he said.

Final USDA crop production numbers should be coming soon, as many farmers hope to wrap up harvesting next week.

Story by Matt Peterson — Photos by Eric Johnson


Mower County

Agriculture & Food Science Exploration Day a success

Crime, Courts & Emergencies

Man charged in previous criminal sexual conduct charged again


COVID-19 trends are up and bird flu continues to increase in Minnesota

Mower County

Cedar Summerstock opens ‘School of Rock’ July 25

Mower County

In Your Community: Mower County Senior Center

Mower County

In Your Community: Duplicate Bridge


Majority of Democrats think Kamala Harris would make a good president, AP-NORC poll shows


Some GOP voters welcome Trump’s somewhat softened tone at Republican National Convention


For Catholic pilgrims, all roads lead to Indy for an old-style devotion in modern stadium setting

Crime, Courts & Emergencies

Convictions: July 8-15


Widespread technology outage disrupts flights, banks, media outlets and companies around the world

Mower County

PHOTOS: Night of competition


Law change aims to ease truck driver testing backlog

Crime, Courts & Emergencies

Austin woman facing several charges related to pull-tab scheme


Comedian Bob Newhart, deadpan master of sitcoms and telephone monologues, dies at 94


Obama, Pelosi and other Democrats make a fresh push for Biden to reconsider 2024 race

Crime, Courts & Emergencies

APD warns public to be alert to rental listing scams


FAFSA completion rates still down in Minnesota, though things are improving

Albert Lea

Albert Lea Civic Music announces season lineup

Mower County

Parks and Rec to begin work on replacing playground surfacing due to June flooding

Blooming Prairie

Blooming Prairie Ribfest cooking up funds for fundraiser

Mower County

City to spray for mosquitos Friday

Local Government

City Council okays preliminary planning funds for Whitewater Project

Albert Lea

Nation of Patriots tour stops in Albert Lea