High yields, low prices for local farmers in 2015 harvest
MORRIS — Good weather throughout the growing season led to a strong harvest, but low prices for crops like corn and soybeans mean farmers will see low profits this year.
"In a nutshell, the yields were great and the prices are terrible," said Paul Groneberg, a crop consultant and agronomist with Centrol Crop Consulting. "It was a good year, but a lot of the grain, especially corn, a lot of beans too, went into storage because the prices are too low — farmers are waiting for better prices."
Corn and soybeans are the two biggest crops in Minnesota. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Minnesota farmers planted 8.2 million acres of corn and 7.65 million acres of soybeans.
The USDA crop production report issued in early November put Minnesota's corn production at 1.45 billion bushels, about 5 percent higher than a record year in 2012. Soybean production in Minnesota is forecast at 379 million bushels, 15 percent higher than a record set in 2010.
Average yields in Minnesota are expected at 187 bushels per acre for corn and 50 bushels per acre for soybeans. In Stevens County, Groneberg said corn ranged from 180 to 220 bushels per acre, while soybeans were from 45 to 60 bushels per acre.
Unfortunately for farmers, prices have dropped as supply has increased.
In 2012, when corn peaked at $8.82 a bushel in August at the Chicago Board of Trade, and soybeans peaked at $17.90 in September, parts of the midwest had suffered a crop-withering drought. As a result, farmers in West Central Minnesota had a great year.
"It was a banner year because we had good crops here and we also had excellent prices — you can look at that as the pinnacle, and it's been going downhill ever since from the standpoint of profitability," said Groneberg.
This year, good weather through the growing season contributed to the excellent yields, Groneberg said. The region didn't have any sustained hot temperatures, and timely rain helped "pull everything through fairly uniformly."
"So much of the time in this part of the state, in July we'll get real hot and very dry, and that's a very critical time for corn and beans," said Groneberg. "Neither of those happened severely this year."
Additionally, a warm and dry fall allowed for a "very good dry down of the corn and beans," Groneberg said. This means farmers need to use less natural gas to dry the crops to bring moisture down after harvest, further lowering input costs.
"The positive side of this fall was the dryness and the yields — if you have bushels at a low price, it's better than low bushels at a poor price," said Groneberg.
Tu-Uyen Tran of the Forum News Service contributed to this story.