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Cold snap damages some corn, soybeans

Ike Currier chops one of his brother's alfalfa fields near Byron. It was ideal weather for the season's first cutting.

Oh, snap.

Cold temperatures and overnight frost last weekend may have damaged the newly emerged corn plants on some southeastern Minnesota farms, although many are optimistic that the plants will survive.

Still, Eyota farmer Ed Kaehler said only 1 percent of his corn crops suffered "cosmetic damage," and he doesn't anticipate having to replant any of his corn.

"The cold snap may have set it back a little bit, but I don't think it did a lot of damage," Kaehler said. "It froze the leaves above ground. The plant was below and ground was fine. Other than that, it's turning green again."

Ryan Buck, a Vasa Township farmer in Goodhue County said the cold affected his corn, but he also doesn't expect to have to replant. His plants were around the 2 to 3 week stage and stood a couple inches tall.


"It killed some of it, and they're brown and dead now," Buck said. "The corn is young enough yet, but it will come back. Give it a couple weeks. With any stress, the crops will definitely be affected a little bit."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that corn was around 93 percent planted in Minnesota by Sunday, which was 16 days ahead of the five-year average, but was behind six days in 2015. Corn planted between May 20 to 25 yields around 87 percent to 95 percent of that planted in late April to early May. It was reported that 53 percent of the corn crop emerged by Sunday.

Yield losses caused by early-season frost injury in corn is influenced by reduction in plant population and the severity of the plant damage. Around the state, reductions in corn grain yield of around 4 percent, 12 percent, and 24 percent are expected when the plant population is reduced to 28,000, 22,000 and 16,000 plants per acre respectively.

Normally, the frost won't kill the corn unless temperatures continue to to freeze the upper portion of the soil where the growing point is found, the USDA says.

During this type of cold weather, soybean crops were also affected. Many farmers around Minnesota reported that some of those plants would have to be replanted. Soybean planting in the state was around 63 percent completed and 9 percent of the crops emerged, which was 11 days ahead of averages, but a week behind last year, according to the USDA.

"The crop that got hurt the most from the frost is if anybody had any soybeans above ground," Kaehler said. "Then those have to be replanted. Everything else survived."

Buck, who also plants soybeans, avoided losing most of his crop from the cold snap.

"There are some guys in the area that suffered, and decided to replant," he noted. "Ourselves, our plants weren't out yet. They were just getting ready to poke through, but didn't suffer any damage there. We skirted by that catastrophe."


Despite the cold weather, many farmers already began to make their first spring cuts to alfalfa crops, to which some say is a little earlier than usual.

"I would say it's a week earlier they're cutting it than normal," Kaehler said. "Some dairy farmers are cutting their alfalfa right now."

While no one can truly prepare for a cold snap, Buck was a little surprised by what he considered to be a late cold front — usually the cold ends between late April and early May — but he continues to look ahead for a good harvest in the fall.

"The cold was always in the back of our minds," he said. "This time of year it's pretty cold. It was always a possibility that it could happen. With the warmer weather, things should straighten themselves back out hopefully."

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