September gave the corn a boost
Too soon to call it a bumper crop
From staff and wire reports
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota corn growers are headed for a record year, and the soybean harvest is shaping up respectably, too, according to new figures from the Minnesota Agricultural Statistics Service.
The gains were concentrated in southern and western Minnesota. Northern Minnesota farmers fared far worse, however, because of a summer cold snap.
Minnesota farmers are expected to harvest 1.07 billion bushels of corn, up 98.6 million bushels from 2003. Farmers planted more acres last spring than previously, and a fairly high yield of 155 bushels an acre resulted in the record production forecast, said Doug Hartwig, the state's chief agricultural statistician.
"The September weather was what the crop needed," Hartwig said.
Lisa Behnken, a regional extension educator based in Rochester for the University of Minnesota, said that although September was a blessing for corn growers, it's too soon to call it a record year.
"It has to be harvested before you can really claim we have a bumper crop," she said. "The crop was two to three weeks behind most of the summer and, although September helped us greatly, it's not quite there yet to really go gangbusters."
Farmers aren't rushing to combine their corn yet because it needs to dry more in the field, Behnken said.
As for the soybean harvest, respectable is a good word to describe it, she said.
An August frost in 29 counties significantly affected the overall state average. Still, farmers are expected to reap a statewide average of 36 bushels an acre. That's up four bushels an acre from the 2003 yield, when aphids ravaged soybean plants and reduced that yield.
Behnken said most of the yields seen in this region are in the range of 40 to 50 bushels per acre.
"It certainly is not a bumper crop," she said. That's primarily because the wet and cool weather of August resulted in white mold and other diseases affecting fields.
The average temperature for the week was 52.8 degrees, 2.4 degrees above normal.
Statewide topsoil moisture supplies as of Oct. 8 were rated 2 percent short, 81 percent adequate, and 17 percent surplus.
There were 5.7 days suitable for fieldwork last week.