The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

July 8, 2013

Crops making comeback

Wet spring delayed planting, may reduce yields this fall

(Continued)

Kent Thiesse, farm management analyst at MinnStar Bank, said some farmers were planting in mid-May while others to the east were still waiting for fields to dry out from early May snowfall.

Those late planters will get a “double whammy” because their crops have shallow roots. This means they'll be the first plants to be stressed from being too dry.

Given the late planting, an early frost would be especially troublesome.

“If we get an early frost … all these predictions about a 14 billion bushel crop would go down the drain,” said Jerry Cooney, who farms near Le Center.

Soybeans were similarly planted late, with some farmers putting them in as recently as last weekend.

Thiesse said soybeans planted after July 1 will only yield perhaps 50 percent to 60 percent of a normal crop, and worse if the planting season is shortened by an early frost.

So farmers are having to decide between planting soybeans late and hoping for a good remainder of the season or collecting insurance on unplanted fields. They'll only get 60 percent of their original insurance guarantee if they don't plant. And that guarantee was only worth a portion of the crop's full value — typically about 75 percent, Thiesse said.

Eisenmenger, the Amboy-area farmer, remembers planting soybeans on July 7 in the wet year of 1993, and said yields were so low that it wasn't worth it.

“I think they're a lot more optimistic than I am,” he said.

The farmers agreed that it's far too early to predict yields, which will depend on steady rain this summer and the frost date this September or October.

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