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Fall of 2017 reminds retired farmers of 1957 fall

This fall reminds some retired farmers of 1957 when heavy rains kept farmers from the fields for weeks.

"We got 66 inches of rain," retired farmer Don Rilley said. Farm fields were covered in water. "All you could do in the fields was hunt geese and ducks," Rilley said.

"We didn't get that much rain up in Donnelly," retired farmer Kermit Stahn said of 1957. Farmers in that area were able to harvest some crops but not all.

Rilley and Stahn were two of several retired farmers who recently talked about the fall of 1957 while having coffee in the city hall in Alberta.

Wet conditions kept farmers from harvesting corn across the county that fall.

"I quit combining on the 15th of December," Stahn said.

"I finished picking corn on Christmas Eve," Rilley said.

Some farmers continued harvesting in January.

The farmers were fortunate there was not much snow in December and January. The ground froze and it created better field conditions.

Back in 1957 corn was sold but it was also used for livestock feed. The late harvest had an impact on corn yields. "That was before all the genetics," Stahn said of improved corn varieties with higher yields.

"A darn good corn crop was 40 or 50 bushels (per acre)," Stahn said. Today's corn yields can be around 150 bushels per acre in Minnesota. Yields of more than 160, 180 and 190 have been recorded in some of the past several years.

The corn crop in 1957 had one best use. "All it was good for was feed," Rilley said. Rilley even had to leave some corn in the field that year.

"I lost a lot more crop from being too wet than being too dry," Rilley said.

Stahn agreed. For some reason, corn seems to handle dry conditions better than wet weather, the retired farmers said.

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