Farmers Feeling the Impact of Cooler Temperatures

Created: 07/16/2014 6:58 PM
By: Dan Conradt

(ABC 6 News) -- It's been a good week for Minnesota farmers.

The new USDA crop report says 64 percent of the state's corn crop is now in "good" or "excellent" condition.

But another key measure of corn growth shows the impact of this cool weather.

"Growing degrees count the number of hours the temperature is between 50 degrees and 86 degrees," said Kirk Phelps at the Mower County FSA office.

And those are key numbers for corn and soybean growth. Crops don't grow much below 50 degrees, and growth doesn't increase much if it's above 86.

"We use that to measure against a normal season, so at this point we're right at normal," Kirk Phelps told ABC 6 News.

But growing degree days are cumulative, and the numbers were slightly above normal before this stretch of cool weather.

"If they're above average that's better if you're a corn or soybean farmer" said John Ulland at Farmer John’s Pumpkin Patch near Austin.

And not all farmers grow corn or soybeans.

"This cool weather is good for the raspberries," John Ulland told us. “We started picking tomatoes last week and sweet corn might be ten days off, so I think that's about on schedule. Crops have been actually earlier than I expected."

"Corn growth can be measured in growing degree units," FSA’s Kirk Phelps explained.

“We like it pretty normal, so we can predict how things are going to grow," countered John Ulland at Farmer John’s.

“We did waste a few early in the year because we didn't get planted really timely, so there's some of those we didn't get to use. But if it warms up now and stays warm we probably can get back ahead of schedule again," Kirk Phelps said.

And that's going to become more important as we head into fall.

"If frost comes at a normal time we want to be average or above on growing degree units."

Photo: ABC 6 News