October 30, 2003



Corn Harvests in US' Minnesota, Wisconsin Exceeds Expectation

In the United States, the fall harvest has nearly ended in Minnesota and is rapidly ending in Wisconsin, and farmers now are looking for some good, soaking rains to replenish their soils.


The Minnesota Agricultural Statistics Service said Monday that the corn harvest is 92% complete. That contrasts with 49% of the corn being harvested at this time a year ago, and an average progress rare of 72% by this time of year. The soybean and sugar beet crops were nearly completed a week ago, also ahead of schedule.


Wisconsin farmers are slightly ahead of schedule in combining their corn for grain, although the large Wisconsin crop used for silage was finished about a month ago. The Wisconsin Agricultural Statistics Service said 52% of the crop harvested for grain is now completed, which is ahead of the average of 50% by this date.


Farmers have left corn dry naturally in fields to save drying costs for storing grain. Kent Thiesse, vice president of MinnStar Bank at Lake Crystal and former University of Minnesota Extension educator at Mankato, said the natural drying in the field is saving southern Minnesota farmers from $12 to $15 per acre in natural gas and drying costs.


In a weekly news column released Monday, it revealed that corn yields in south-central Minnesota exceeds expectation. This crop was helped along by earlier than normal spring planting that let the corn established deep roots before mid-summer drought arrived in the Upper Midwest.


The Wisconsin statistics service said field reports in southern Wisconsin find similar surprises. Depending on soil types and when the crops were planted, yields are varying between as little as 40 bushels an acre to more than 200 bushels an acre in some parts of the state.


The soybean harvest now nearly completed in Wisconsin shows greater drought damage, with yields in the low 20 bushels per acre range when 43 bushels was the average a year ago.


Corn prices gained from a quarter to three-fourths of a cent at the Chicago Board of Trade as the markets begin to measure a smaller corn crop against stronger export demand. Soybean prices dropped slightly on Monday, although they are well above average for the past five years with tight supplies expected to ration the crop, at least until the South American winter crop matures.


While the dry fall has helped farmers with harvesting and fall tillage work, both state statistical agencies noted that good soaking rains are needed to recharge soil conditions for next year's growing season.

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