REDWOOD FALLS, Minn. — Most farmers in the Corn Belt will look back on the 2019 planting season as one of the biggest disasters they’ve ever faced. In Minnesota, farmers faced relentless rain, flooding and historic prevented planting acres.
Bob Worth farms near Lamberton in southwest Minnesota, which was hit the worst. He says he’s never taken prevented planting on his farm until this year.
"Out of 2,300 acres that we farm, 1,800 is prevent plant, 200 acres of corn and 300 acres of soybeans is all we got in," he says.
Near Tracy, Joel Schreurs says he also struggled this spring. "Personally, on our farming operation, we’re about 50% planted. We did not get much corn planted, but the majority of the beans have been planted," he says.
Mark Schultz, market analyst with Northstar Commodity in Minneapolis, says it will be a record year for unplanted acres in the U.S. and in the state. "I think we’re 1.1 million acres of prevent plant in the state of Minnesota."
As you move east and north in Minnesota, more of the crop got planted, but again at various times. Eden Valley farmer Tom Haag says the corn is also very uneven because of nitrogen loss. "The fields are not that good, even coarse over as we get into the field, there’s too many drowned-outs and low spots."
With the late planting, crop development is also behind for both corn and soybeans. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Crop Progress Report showed corn as of Aug. 18 was 55% dented verses the average of 74%, while 87% of the soybean crop had set pods compared to 92% normally. However, farmers report development in southern counties is seven days to two weeks behind, and isolated areas are lagging even more.
"There again, there was a lot of late beans planted and we need a long fall to get them mature," Gerald Tumbleson, of Sherburn, says.
David Nicolai, University of Minnesota Extension educator, says the corn is in a race to hit black layer.
"That’s going to push some of this late planted corn way into the month of October, so the concern is frost in September for possibilities," he says.
A late season also will mean increased drying costs on corn.
"I’m looking and we could be at the 25% moisture corn — that’s 10 points to bring out," Haag says.
Nicolai agrees that quite a bit of corn will need to be dried. "Unless we have a phenomenal fall, it’s probably going to have to go through some type of a drying operation this fall for storage so we have it the proper moisture," he says.
Farmers say corn will also be lighter test weight and have lower yields, with very few 200-bushel field averages.
Mike Skaug farms near Beltrami in northwest Minnesota and says his crops will just be average. "We’re like 160 to 170 on corn and we’re probably in that area, not as good a year ago, but probably in the 10-year average," he says.
Haag also thinks his yield prospects are diminished. "We’ve probably got more of an average for us in our area — 160 to 165 to 170 — because we got too many drowned-outs, too many low areas where it was compacted when we were putting it in or muddy."
Kent Beadle is a market analyst with CHS Hedging in St. Paul and is forecasting overall corn yield for Minnesota will be down from 2018. "Just generally, the overall state, even in the better areas ,are going to see a little bit lower yields, so 175 plus or minus I think is going to catch Minnesota," he says.
Soybean yields are also expected to be down with the late season, except for the northern counties which had timely planting.
Theresia Gillie farms near Hallock in the far north and says, "Soybeans should be average or a little bit above because we’ve been a little bit on the dry side."
Other farmers like Paul Freeman of Fergus Falls say soybeans will be disappointing on their farms.
"The best I could hope for is average," he says. "I’m thinking it could be compared to last year, I could be down 15 bushels per acre."
Kent Beadle is more optimistic about soybean yields versus corn.
"I’m actually thinking that Minnesota is going to be something closer to maybe 46 bushels an acre," he says. That would be down 8 to 9 bushels per acre verses 2018.
However, no one will really know for sure until the combines run this fall.