Posted at: 09/26/2012 4:41 PM
Updated at: 09/26/2012 5:11 PM
By: Dan Conradt
Minnesota Corn Beats The Odds
(ABC 6 News) -- It's being called the worst drought in decades. And while this summer's dry weather has devastated the corn crop in parts of Iowa, Illinois and Indiana, many Minnesota fields have been spared.
"It's a lot better than we were expecting throughout the year, so we're happy with it," said Scott Ptacek. He was delivering a truck load of acorn from his family’s farm to the elevator in Lansing, Minnesota.
“A five year average for a farm around here probably is fairly close to 200 bushels to the acre, and this year they're going to be happy with anything over 150," said Mower County SFA Director Kirk Phelps.
A USDA estimate says the says the corn crop will yield a national average of 123 bushels an acre this year. But Minnesota's estimate of 156 bushels is the highest in the corn belt.
"We're kind of in the green zone here," Ptacek told us. His family farms corn in an area stretching from south of Owatonna to Blooming Prairie.
“Fields to the northern part of what we run has been averaging a little over 200," Ptacek explained as his corn was added to an enormous pile south of the elevator.
“Yields are very variable this year, and it seems to do with the water-holding capacity of the soil. Even in the same pass they can vary 100 bushels on the yield monitors," said Phelps.
And the weather has helped reduce the moisture content of the corn.
“It needs to be below 15 percent to store in it a bin over the winter," Phelps explained.
“We're drying a little bit. It's about 16% to 18% moisture, what we've been picking," Ptacek added.
And with drying at a minimum, there's one less thing to cut into a farmer's bottom line.
"Expenses have risen dramatically, but the corn price has risen dramatically as well," Phelps said.
“Corn's about 7-25 today," Ptacek informed us. “There's still good money to be made."
The early start to the planting season also means an early harvest, many southern Minnesota farmers will finish the corn harvest by October first, while in a normal year they might not start harvesting until then.