Corn crop behind schedule
A late-season snowstorm kept area corn farmers from getting in the field in May. Now, those farmers are hoping that an equally late harvest season will keep them out of the field until late fall.
"We're definitely going to need a late frost," said Rick Anderson, grain merchandiser for Goodhue-based Ag Partners.
Overall, the Minnesota's corn crop looks good. According to the National Ag Statistics Service, 61 percent of Minnesota's corn received a good or excellent rating in mid-August.
Still, with the late start, it's quite a bit behind schedule. Only 7 percent had reached dough stage, when moisture inside the kernel goes from milky to doughy.
"Snow put us out to mid-May until much got planted," Anderson said, referring to a rare May 2 storm that dumped inches of snow on the region.
"There was a fair amount of corn that was planted in June, which is very abnormal."
Last week's cool days also slowed down the crop's progress. Area corn farmers are hoping the thermometer stays above the 32-degree mark well into October.
"If it freezes too early, it kills plant (and) the grain could be of low quality," Anderson said. "Or you may not get anything if it is killed by frost too early."
The outcome of this year's crop, Anderson said, really depends on what the weather forecast holds.
"It's highly variable," he said of the corn crop. "Some may be just fine."
This year stands in stark contrast to the 2012 growing season. Then, the region was spared the widespread drought that affected much of the Midwest. In addition, an early spring allowed farmers to plant early, giving crops plenty of time to mature.
"Last year was a fantastic crop," Anderson said.
In addition, the drought caused corn market prices to go up, and area farmers were able to sell their crops at good prices. But that won't be the case this year, Anderson said. The drought has subsided enough for corn crops around the country to rebound, keeping market prices down.
"Prices are lower for this year's crop than last year's crop," Anderson said.
For now, farmers are just waiting to get harvest under way.
"They're apprehensive," Anderson said. "We won't know what we have until we get out there with the combines."
Forum News Service contributed to this report.