MANKATO — For area farmers taking in a historically late harvest, there are two comforts: The snow and heavy rains have held off and the harvest here is ahead of many other parts of the state and the Midwest.
“I’d say 95% of the beans are out. We’re picking corn now. A lot of guys are maybe a third of the way done with corn,” said Kyle Carey, who farms near Mapleton.
Kent Thiesse, farm analyst and vice president at MinnStar Bank in Lake Crystal, said October finished much better than it started, when heavy rains persisted.
“The last couple of weeks have been pretty favorable, at least in the immediate south-central Minnesota area. It’s improved a lot.”
He estimated 10% of soybeans are still in fields. They were beans that were planted very late or are sitting in wet spots.
“Maybe half of the corn is out in our area. The southwest part of the state isn’t nearly as far along. That whole western third is quite a ways behind,” Thiesse said.
At the start of last week, the USDA Crop Progress Report showed much less headway was being made in many parts of the country and in much of Minnesota.
The U.S. corn harvest was at 41% complete, below a five-year average 61%.
Minnesota was further behind, harvesting just 22% compared to a 56% five-year average.
The amount of soybeans harvested in the Midwest and west was at 62%, below an 80% five-year average.
Minnesota had 62% of its soybean harvest complete versus a 93% five-year average.
Carey said soybean yields were down from last year. “Talking to neighbors, I’d say 48 to 55 (bushels per acre) is what they’re seeing. Some really nice fields maybe hit 60.”
He said early corn yields are in the 190- to 220-bushel range in his area. “If your corn was planted by the middle of May, it’s good corn, but if it wasn’t, you’ll be behind on yields.”
Carey said corn yields are better than many feared. “On the bean side, we were a little disappointed.”
The corn being picked has a higher than usual moisture content in the kernels. “It’s been running 5% to 8% higher moisture than normal for late October,” Thiesse said.
Carey said corn he’s picked is in the 20-22% moisture range. It has to be dried to 15% or 16% to be stored without risk of it spoiling.
Thiesse said getting more sunny, breezy days would keep drying the corn still in the fields.
Higher moisture means farmers use more propane to fuel dryers. While some areas of the state and Midwest are starting to see shortages of propane or slow deliveries, Thiesse said he hasn’t heard of problems in this area.
Some farmers are seeing lower corn yields and more difficulty combining in fields that had “green snap,” when high winds in late July snapped stalks. The plants live but are tipped and don’t grow well. “That can reduce yields 30 to 40 percent an acre,” Thiesse said.
With a lower-than-average harvest last year and this year he doesn’t expect there will be any shortage of storage for grain.
“Between on-farm and commercial storage, we should have enough.”