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Area crops may still be maturing under harvest moon

WILLMAR -- The nation's farmers are forecast to harvest 12.1 billion bushels of corn and 2.93 billion bushels of soybeans this fall, but area crops will still need to be maturing under the harvest moon.

According to the USDA's crop production report, the expected harvest is 152.3 bushels of corn per acre and 40 bushels of soybeans at a national level. That's 2 percent less corn and 1 percent less beans than the agency predicted last month.

USDA's numbers forecast an average harvest of 163 bushels of corn per acre in Minnesota. The state's bean crop is expected to match the national average of 40 bushels an acre. That's two bushels of corn less that previous report and 1 bushel less per acre of soybeans.

Crops in the local area have been affected by a wide range of variables this season, according to Dale Scheffler, agronomy manager for Central Lakes Coop.

The rainfall amounts, timing of rain and soil types are all playing a role in crop conditions.

Another key is that because of the wet spring, the crops are behind in development and need the rest of this month to mature. "We need time before we get a killing frost," he said.

Generally, corn that was planted in late April is now dented, according to University of Minnesota Extension Educator David Nicolai. However, corn that was delayed is in the dough stage or only beginning to dent.

Avoiding the killing frost until the end of the month is key, Nicolai said. He's heard projections of corn yields in the 180 bushel range.

"We need the entire month of September to reach those numbers," he said.

Nicolai also sees variability across the region but noted that today's seed hybrids are getting better and better at stress tolerance. Still, the proof of the coming crop will be in the grain tank of the combines, whenever they start to roll.

"You really never know until you get the combine in the field," he said.

Key numbers from the USDA Crop Production report

Minnesota corn for grain, yield projection:

Aug. 1 - 165 bushels per acre

Sept. 1 - 163 bushels per acre

Minnesota soybeans, yield projection

Aug. 1 - 41 bushels per acre

Sept. 1 - 40 bushels per acre

Minnesota sugarbeets, yield projection

Aug. 1 - 22.6 tons per acre

Sept. 1 - 22.7 tons per acre