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Area farmers call it a harvest

An area farmer recently finished up corn harvesting north of Morris. The frozen pond in the foreground speaks to the difficulties farmers had this season, which started two weeks behind schedule and cool, wet weather never allowed crops or producers to catch up. Photo by Nancy Woodke, Sun Tribune.

By Tom Larson

Sun Tribune

The area crop harvest is all but in the books, and, like last year, yields vary depending on who was lucky enough to get some summer rainfall.

"Yields jumped all over the place depending on rain patterns and soil types," said Paul Groneberg of CENTROL.

Statewide, 97 percent of the 2008 corn crop has been harvested, according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Minnesota field office. That's a little behind the historical average.

Some farmers also have had a tough time getting late fall field work done. Last week's average of 27 degrees was indicative of a stretch of sub-freezing temperatures that have prevented some farmers from tilling and applying fertilizer.

However, there is good news for next spring. Statewide, readings show that 77 percent of soils have adequate moisture and 16 percent showed surplus soil moisture.

Area farmers probably are going to see average yields about five to 10 bushels less than expected, Groneberg said.

Veronica Curfman, Director of the Stevens County Farm Services Agency, said she couldn't even estimate the range of yields because of the differences seen throughout the county.

In addition, almost all farmers had to dry corn this year because the season was about two weeks behind and wet and cool fall weather prevented much drying in the fields.

"Farmers burned a lot of gas (drying)," Groneberg said. "It was costly getting things dried up this year. I'm sure some easily ran up costs of $70 per acre for drying."

The bright spot, he said, was a later than usual frost, which helped corn reach maturity.

"We would have had light corn and wet corn is we had a normal frost," he said.

Curfman said test weights are down somewhat, which didn't happen last year. But fall rains were able to soak in because of the last frost, giving many farmers a good moisture recharge for next season.