MANKATO — The latest drought assessment shows much of Minnesota a bit drier than it was last week, with most of the southern, western and northwestern part of the state at least abnormally dry.
But if farmers take advantage of harvesting corn exceptionally early, Chad Berghoefer predicts a blockbuster year for many producers.
“People will make record incomes in parts of Minnesota, if they get it out early,” said Berghoefer, technical services manager at the Mankato office of seed giant Dupont/Pioneer.
While the hot dry summer cut into corn and soybean potential, Berghoefer and others say crops weren’t drastically hurt, particularly compared to many of the drought-ravaged states in the Corn Belt. The stunted crop nationally has sent prices to record highs.
Berghoefer expects farmers will begin combining corn seriously right after Labor Day — three weeks or more earlier than normal.
Traditionally, farmers get some benefit from leaving corn in the field longer as the kernels dry down naturally. With the early maturity of crops and temperatures still in the 80s, those kernels will dry quickly.
But Berghoefer said even if farmers need to do extra drying of their corn once its in the bins — it will be well worth it. The corn dryers use LP gas and LP is relatively cheap right now.
“The value of the crop is so high, it’s worth going and getting it early and drying it down,” Berghoefer said. “If it’s left in the field the possibility of Mother Nature taking it down, stalk or roots going down — all that can come into play.”
With worse drought in southwestern Minnesota, Berghoefer expects corn harvests there to average 150-170 bushels per acre. In the Mankato south-central Minnesota region, he expects 160-180 bushels, while fields toward the Rochester area will be even better.
Berghoefer said rains earlier this month were especially beneficial to soybeans. “The rain in August makes the bean crop and we’ve had some timely rains for soybeans.”
New data from the U.S. Drought Monitor on Thursday shows fifty-two percent of the state is now either abnormally dry or formally in drought, up five percentages points from last week, as dry conditions spread into part of central Minnesota. Thirty-six percent of the state is in a moderate-to-extreme drought, up one point from last week.
Online: U.S. Drought Monitor: droughtmonitor.unl.edu