For area farmers, this year's harvest is nearly in the bin; weather has made a world of difference over last year
Wow. What a difference a year makes. At this time last year, area farmers were struggling with wet weather, immature and wet crops and a long, harsh harvest season. This year, the combines are gobbling up the corn and soybean fields at a dramatic clip under sunny skies. This year's crops are dry and of higher quality than last year. And, the prices are good, too.
"It's just what we were hoping for," said Wes Nelson, executive director of the Farm Service Agency office in Kandiyohi County.
Nelson estimated that ab-out 75 percent of the corn crop has been harvested. The number is changing fast as farmers continue to work quickly through the fields.
There may be a few areas of soybeans left, but only the low, wet spots that farmers are waiting on to dry out, he added. The sugar beet harvest is wrapping up, too.
Area yields are ranging from 45 to 55 bushels per acre for soybeans and from 175 to more than 200 bushels per acre of corn, Nelson said.
The biggest difference from last year is the quality, with better test weights, up to 60 pounds per bushel for corn, and dry crops that can be shipped directly to market or put directly into the bin without drying time or costs.
With local cash corn prices in the range of $4.50 per bushel, the price is also better than the usual harvest time bids. While that price bounce is good for crop producers, it raises concern for livestock growers who just regained profitability and now face higher feed prices, Nelson noted.
In Renville County, 99 percent of the beans and more than 90 percent of the corn have been harvested, according to Byron Hogberg, Farm Service Agency executive director. Yields are in the 50-bushel range for soybeans and, on average, 190 to 200 bushels for corn, with good test weights and low moisture.
Hogberg estimates that harvest will be wrapped up next week, if the weather holds. Sugar beet harvest is continuing and tillage operations under way for the corn and soybean acres.
John Mages, who farms in the Belgrade area, said Wednesday was the last day of corn harvest on the farm. He estimated that his tillage and anhydrous ammonia application was about 60 percent complete.
"What a world of difference from last year," he said. "We have to make up for last year."
Mages estimated the progress this year is three to four weeks ahead of schedule, while at this point last year, the progress was three to four weeks behind the usual schedule.
The state weekly crop-weather report issued Monday found that 47 percent of the state's corn was harvested through Sunday. Just 3 percent of the crop was harvested at this time last year and 26 percent is the five-year average.
Soybeans were 96 percent harvested, compared to 33 percent last year and a 76 percent five-year average. Sugar beets were 91 percent harvested, compared to 58 percent in 2009 and a five-year average of 73 percent.
The USDA national crop progress report reflects similar harvest progress through Sunday. The 18 states that produce 94 percent of the corn crop had completed 68 percent of the corn harvest. Similarly, the 18 states that produce 95 percent of the soybeans had finished 83 percent of that harvest. Farmers in the four states, Minnesota, Idaho, North Dakota and Michigan, that produce 84 percent of the nation's sugar beet crop had taken in 75 percent of that crop.