Weather aside, harvest looking to be average
First, it was drought-like conditions for most of the summer. And then a windstorm came along in late August, knocking down large corn stalks.
Nevin Schroeder, 20, of rural Owatonna, hasn’t been farming for long, but he knows things could have been much worse and he’s banking on an “average” harvest of corn and soybeans, despite a growing season of weather challenges.
“We had a lot of corn go down this year from the wind at the end of August,” said Schroeder. “The wind just came and knocked everything over.”
In the hardest-hit fields, Schroeder is expecting below-average crop yields. “It varies from place to place,” he said.
He said the downed corn makes it extremely difficult to navigate the combine through the field when corn stalks are twisted in every direction. He also will lose some of the crop because wind knocked the ears of corn close to the ground out of the combine’s reach.
Schroeder farms with his grandfather, Duane Schroeder. They operate about 650 acres by their home place near Meriden and Clinton Falls.
They have spent the past week or so bouncing back-and-forth between harvesting soybeans and corn. They started on corn during the first weekend of October, switched to beans earlier last week and went back to corn again later in the week.
For corn, the Schroeders are averaging about 215-220 bushels per acre. He said that’s down from what they would like to see, mostly attributing it to the wind-damaged fields. The moisture has been coming in at 18-20%, leaving them to dry it down to about 15%.
The soybeans are coming in at about 50-60 bushels per acre for the Schroeders.
Claire LaCanne, an agricultural educator with the University of Minnesota, said most farmers in Steele and Rice counties are looking at average yields for this year’s harvest. “About average is good in a drought year,” LaCanne said, adding this was the worst drought experienced in many years.
Many other parts of the state are below average because of the drought, according to LaCanne.
Unlike recent years, one positive thing going for area crop farmers like the Schroeders this harvest season is the commodity prices. Corn is coming in at about $5 per bushel, while soybeans are at nearly $12 per bushel.
The Schroeders usually take their crops to Crystal Valley in Hope, which is only about 8 minutes from their farm.
“They are pretty much begging for corn right now,” Schroeder said. “They need so much of it,” he added.
The most recent crop report from the USDA on Oct. 3 shows 62% of the soybeans had been harvested while 20% of the corn had been picked. Soybeans are two days ahead of last year and two weeks ahead of the average, while corn is about three days ahead of last year and 11 days ahead of the average.
No current report was available at press time because of Monday’s holiday.
As farmers are busy harvesting, Schroeder has one simple request for motorists.
“You have to have patience when you’re behind farm equipment,” he said. “We’re not trying to be slow. It’s just that tractors and combines go slow.”
Schroeder said by all accounts this year is an early harvest.
“We’re in good shape this year,” he said, holding his breath and adding, “Just so we don’t get our first snowfall yet.”