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Rainy weather dampens crop outlook

Brian Augustin has spent October waiting.

The weather hasn't been kind to the Goodhue County farmer.

He says his 550 acres of corn and soybeans are too wet to harvest, and all the while the clock is ticking. Augustin looks to harvest his crops before late November when barge traffic on the Mississippi closes for the winter and storage at the local granary is filled.

"It's hard to sit here every day and not move," he said.

Augustin is not alone in his predicament.

The past month's soggy weather was left many local farmers in the lurch, said Chuck Schwartau, University of Minnesota Extension educator.

"Very little corn has been harvested in Goodhue County," he said.

Jim Larson at Red Wing Grain gives a similar assessment of the effect rainy weather has had on local harvests.

"It delays everything," Larson said. "We're waiting for the grain to get in. It should be on the river."

Corn across the county is generally twice as saturated as it should be, Schwartau said. And while not as bad as corn, soybeans - which in a typical year have already been harvested - also are waterlogged.

The situation by and large offers two options for farmers. They can harvest their crops before they're dry and pay to have them dried. Or they can wait for dry weather.

It's not unusual for co-ops to dry grain before shipping, but the more saturated a crop is the more drying will cost a farmer. A crop that is twice as wet as normal will cost roughly twice as much to dry.

"Everybody is really gambling," Schwartau said.

The drying process can damage portions of a farmer's crop, he said, but leaving corn or soybeans in the field for extended periods of time also can result in crop loss.

"I'm kind of holding out for dry weather," Augustin said Thursday. "It sounds like we're going to have a few (sunny) days next week."

But, he added, the weatherman has been wrong before.

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