Corn, soybeans heading toward earlier harvest
With the 2015 growing season heading towards the final stretch, farmers and agriculture officials agree that crop growth in southern Minnesota is ahead of last year.
The United States Department of Agriculture, which reports crop progress throughout the country on a weekly basis, said last week that both corn and soybeans growth was ahead of last year’s average and the five-year average.
Ninety four percent of the corn was past the silking stage last week, compared to 82 percent last year and 88 percent for the five year average. That was an increase from 82 percent the previous week.
For soybeans, 98 percent were blooming and 73 percent had set pods. At this time last year 90 percent of the beans were blooming but only 42 percent were setting pods.
Local corn and soybean farmer Bruce Schmoll said that weather conditions in the spring were better this year than last year which has contributed to the crop being farther along this year. In 2014 late winter snows delayed planting followed by some heavy spring rains.
With farmers able to get into their fields earlier this year the crops are progressing at a more “normal” pace, he said.
Schmoll said he anticipated that the corn harvest could be underway on some fields by the third week in September with soybean harvests starting a few weeks later.
While the crops are maturing on schedule the condition of the crops are also good this year.
Corn condition statewide is rated at 87 percent good or excellent, according to the USDA. Based on the 20 percent of the crop in the dough stage or beyond, the USDA rated the crop equal to last year but four days ahead of the five year average. For soybeans, the USDA rated 81 percent of the crop good to excellent. Soybeans were rated as nine days ahead of last year and 10 days ahead of the five year average.
This season is also seeing favorable moisture rates. For 88 percent of the crops topsoil moisture was adequate with five percent having a surplus. Only seven percent was short, the USDA said. Ninety percent of crops had an adequate subsoil moisture with four percent seeing a surplus. Only six percent was reported short on moisture.
Schmoll added that a good growing season and a good crop does not automatically transfer into a good year for producers.
Both corn and soybean prices remain low, he said, and the cost of farming, including land rental continues to rise.
While corn and soybeans dominate the southern Minnesota landscape, numerous other crops are grown throughout Minnesota.
Statewide, alfalfa hay’s second cutting is 94 percent complete compared to 74 percent last year and the third cutting is at 21 percent compared to 12 percent last year. The third cutting was five days ahead of last year. Hay was rated at 81 percent good to excellent.
For other Minnesota crop conditions, potatoes were ranked at 93 percent good to excellent while sugar beets were at 85 percent good to excellent. Barley was rated at 64 percent good to excellent.