Weather slows harvesters' progress

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 9/17/96.

Area farmers are looking ahead to the harvest season. Many farmers have already started filling silo and have third crop hay down.

Dan Martens, Benton County Crop Specialist, states there is a lot of variability in the crops this year. "Big factors in the crop world are the cold spring, late planting, and dry summer," he said. "Crop conditions across the area are spotty." He added the hot dry summer during the time the corn pollinaed time hindered the corn crops progress. Cornfields are anywhere from late milk stage to harvest ready. "Many of the fields need three to four weeks to mature while others planted on lighter soils are ready to chop for silage." Martens said many farmers started chopping silage a couple of weeks ago while others are just starting.

The soybeans are a little more tolerant to the weather than corn and can pollinate over a longer period of time, Martens explained. "There is a lot of variation as to when the beans were planted and when they received rain showers. Some soybeans are turning yellow due to the dry weather and others are grass green," he said.

Martens said due to the low moisture levels, second and third crop hay was smaller than normal. On some fields, third crop hay was next to nonexistent. Because of the dry field conditions, farmers have been able to cut meadow hay in low lying areas this year.

The St. Cloud airport weather station reported the area is six to seven inches behind normal in precipitation for the summer. Fields will be needing a recharge from fall rains. "This time of year we'll take the moisture anyway we can get it," Martens said.

According to the Minnesota Agricultural Statistics Service, chilly weather last week brought a killing frost to some areas. The northern part of Meeker County was spared, but crops in the south in McLeod, Sibley and Carver counties were affected. Crops in the Litchfield area were damaged by the frost according to Meeker County Farm Service report.

Record-low temperatures were set in central Minnesota, including St. Cloud. "We probably need the whole month of September without a frost to get our corn to maturity," Neil Broadwater, Winona County extension educator, said.

Dry conditions persisted, according to the report. Much of the topsoil in the state was rated very short or short. "We would have liked to have had the rain a month ago. I'm not sure how valuable a rain would be for finishing the corn crop," Broadwater said. He added farmers don't want fields to get so wet they can't harvest.

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