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Cool, damp weather delays soybean, corn harvests

Cool, damp weather over the last week and a colder-than-normal growing season has slowed the harvest, particularly for soybean and corn growers in North Dakota and Minnesota.

Only 18 percent of soybeans in North Dakota had been harvested through Oct. 1, compared to 41 percent last year and 43 percent on average, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service. In Minnesota, 13 percent of soybeans had been harvested, compared to 40 percent on average.

Rain prevented farmers from harvesting at all on some days, or delayed them getting out into the fields until after fields had dried.

"They're behind because of the weather," said Darin Jantzi, NASS state statistician for North Dakota.

Precipitation was greatest in the Red River Valley and northwestern North Dakota. Some areas in the Red River Valley received an inch of rain or more for the period from Sept. 26-Oct. 2. Totals were greatest in southeastern North Dakota and east of the Red River.

Some weather stations recorded precipitation on five out of seven days. In Casselton, N.D., and Ada, Minn., there was measurable precipitation every day but Thursday, Sept. 28, and Saturday, Sept. 30. Cloudy weather prevented fields from drying even on days when it didn't rain.

Cool temperatures also slowed the harvest, delaying drying. Cool temperatures also produce a heavier dew in the morning, which slows drying of fields. Temperatures were below normal west and southwest of Fargo.

Just 2 percent of corn in North Dakota had been harvested by Oct. 1, compared to 11 percent on average for that date. In Minnesota, the corn harvest was just getting started.

The corn harvest is behind because a much lower percentage of corn has reached maturity than is normal for this time of year. That is due to lower-than-average temperatures throughout the growing season. Just 47 percent of the corn crop in North Dakota had reached maturity by Oct. 1, compared to 74 percent last year.

"We've had a cooler-than-normal year for the major corn growing areas of the state," said Joel Ransom, an Extension agronomist at North Dakota State University.

The fact that corn maturity is below normal is causing some concern among farmers. Unless temperatures are higher than normal in coming weeks, farmers may be forced to harvest when corn is wetter than is ideal, which will force them to dry corn in the fields. That would increase costs.

Harvest of other crops was less impacted by recent weather. Harvest of potatoes, sugar beets, and dry edible beans in North Dakota was about normal. Of those crops, the harvest of dry beans was furthest along on Oct. 1 — about 71 percent.

In Minnesota, the percentage of dry edible beans harvested was above normal, while both the potato and sugar beet harvests were slightly below normal.

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