Stop the average farmer on the street this fall and ask them how this year’s crops have been, and that will likely be their answer.
Heavy rains in the summer slowed or prevented growth, with other weather issues including hail and high winds also creating havoc in the fields across Watonwan County.
In an industry that is so weather dependent, the skies were not good to farmers this year, and it is showing up in the yields this fall.
According to the Oct. 22, 2018, USDA crop progress report, 35 percent of the corn has been harvested, which is equal to the national average. The USDA reports the corn crop condition as of Oct. 22 is good to excellent. The report adds 62 percent of the soybean crop statewide has been harvested, which is well below the national average of 87 percent for this time of the year.
The soybean crop rating according to the USDA progress report was 72 percent good to excellent.
The story in Watonwan County is a little different, as yield reports for both corn and soybeans are both far below what farmers have come to expect.
“I would say we are 60-70 bushels off of last year,” said Harold Wolle, a Madelia area farmer and Minnesota Corn Growers Association board member in talking about this year’s corn harvest.
Linda Stuckenbroker, Watonwan County FSA director, echoed that, as she said she has been hearing reports of corn in the 160-170 bushels per acre range.
One year ago, many farmers were reporting corn yields above 200 bushels per acre. While the 2017 crop was one for the record books, those looking back on the past few years are considering the 2018 season to be one of the worst they have experienced. Soybeans have not fared any better.
Kevin Schweer, a grain merchandiser for Central Farm Service (CFS), said most soybean yields have been in the high 40s to low 50s in bushels per acre. As is the case each year yields are variable based on the weather, and Schweer said the further east one goes the better the overall yields.
The western portions of south central Minnesota are “not too great,” added Schweer.
The good news, said Wolle, is that the weather over the past week has been much more ideal, which has allowed many farmers to get back on track.
Wolle said he was able to finish his soybeans, but added there is still quite a bit of corn left in the field. That means the weather needs to cooperate in the next couple of weeks to allow for that work to be completed.
When the crop reports come in, some farmers have been reporting good yields in various spots of their operation, but with so many drowned out spots, where the yield is zero, the overall numbers are well below the average.
Stuckenbroker added there are still plenty of wet spots farmers have to deal with this fall, adding in some cases it may take a hard freeze before they are able to get in and harvest that crop.
“There is still some standing water out there,” Stuckenbroker added.
Those wet spots may also hamper fall tillage.
There is still plenty of work to be done this fall as it relates to harvest, and the public is reminded to watch for equipment on the roadways and to give those driving that equipment the space they need.