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Soils in farm fields across the are saturated with as much as 8 inches of rain from storms Sunday and Monday night. With more rain in the forecast, area farmers are nervous their fields won't have significant time to drain. Here, a sugar beet crop is waterlogged Tuesday at this farm along Kandiyohi County Road 19 south of Willmar. Tribune photo by Gary Miller

Biggest crop loss may come from standing water

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news Willmar, 56201
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

WILLMAR -- The most significant crop losses from this week's stormy weather will not be from wind or hail, but rather standing water that drowns the young corn and soybean plants.

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"We don't need another 3-inch rain now," Wes Nelson, executive director of the Kandiyohi County Farm Service Ag-ency, said Tuesday.

The soils, now saturated with as much as 8 inches of rain from the Sunday and Monday night storms, need time to drain. Some of the crops in the low spots in fields will be drowned out, according to Larry Konsterlie, who farms north of Willmar.

Konsterlie measured more than 5 inches of rain at his place on Sunday and Monday. While the plants can stand a few days in water while drainage tile works to drain the excess water, a longer period just kills the plants.

"What matters now is how long the crops have what they call 'wet feet'," he said. "It's hard to get that much water away in a short time."

Both Konsterlie and Nelson note that the corn plants are leaning over due to the high winds, but are not damaged like last summer when storm winds snapped the plant stalks completely off. The corn plants may pop back up or may grow with a bend in the plant that could make harvesting more challenging, Nelson said.

Nelson went on a damage survey Monday and noted lots of tree damage in groves, damage to grain bins and sheds and damage to approximately 20 irrigation units that were tipped over by Sunday night's high winds in the area north of Atwater. The units what were lined up in an east-west fashion were more prone to tipping over, he said.

Nelson recorded more than 4 inches of rain at his home. He also noted that overnight rains Monday into Tuesday poured more water onto the southern part of the county. The reports included about 2 inches in the Blomkest area.

Harlan Madsen, who farms near Lake Lillian, said nearly 8 inches of rain was dumped on his property in southern Kandiyohi County between Sunday and Monday, putting sections of alfalfa and corn fields under water.

"There's a lot of water standing in the fields and the ditches are plumb full," he said. "I have alfalfa that should be harvested that's under water."

Portions of one field with 1½-foot-tall corn was nearly buried in mud because heavy rain washed soil down slopes, and a neighbor's corn field has 8- to 10-foot-wide strips that have been totally washed away.

"We did need the rain, but I didn't nearly 8 to 9 inches," said Madsen, who is nervous the region could get more rain this week.

There is one positive aspect to the rain, said Madsen. "At least it'll drown the leafhoppers on the alfalfa."

Konsterlie noted that the outlook is "pretty good" for the growing season, with ample moisture available to get the crops through, as long as there are some occasional rains at key times, like when the corn is pollinating.

"I'm still optimistic for a good year," he said. "There's lots of knee-high corn already."

Tribune reporter Carolyn Lange contributed to this report.

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