Nov. 24—AMBOY — With corn and soybeans safely in grain bins, fields tilled and resting for the winter, area farmers are looking back at a fall harvest that was better than many had expected.
"Right in this area, everybody was pleased with their yields," said Tom Hoverstad, a scientist at the University of Minnesota Southern Research and Outreach Center in Waseca.
"Corn was very good and we had some really good soybeans, although some (farmers) were a little disappointed with soybeans."
Amboy area farmer Caesar Larson said the dry weather made for a relatively quick harvest.
"We had a fantastic fall. There are lots of reasons to be happy as a farmer this year.," Larson said.
Larson and Hoverstad said farmers in their areas generally got soybean yields in the mid 60s bushels per acre to low 70s bushels per acre. Corn yields averaged in the 220 bushels range with some getting 240 bushels per acre.
Larson said yields in some corn fields were down because of lack of rain. "But overall the crop was very good."
Northern Blue Earth County and much of Nicollet County, as well as counties to the west, were much drier than other counties in the area.
In late October Nicollet, Le Sueur and Sibley counties were declared primary natural disaster areas because of drought, allowing farmers to apply for emergency credit to replace equipment, livestock, or refinance certain debts.
Larson said the dry fall also created perfect conditions for doing fall tillage.
And crop prices remain high. Cash bids for corn were at $6.75 per bushel and soybeans were $14.26 per bushel locally this week.
Hoverstad said precipitation for the calendar year, as measured in Waseca, is 7.68 inches behind normal. "At the end of September we were 4.6 inches behind, so quite a bit of that deficit has been later in the year."
He said that even with the lack of rain, most areas got some timely rains and the soils here are good at retaining water.
"We have high clay, high organic matter — the prairie soils. We have some sandy soils, but not a lot," Hoverstad said.
And he is confident soil moisture will get restored.
"Wet springs are normal around here so I think we stand a good chance of adding a lot of soil moisture. We usually get 4 to 5 inches from mid-March through April."
Winter snows don't generally add much to soil moisture. On average, each foot of snow contains about one-tenth of an inch of water. And when snow melts in the spring much of it runs off the frozen ground.
Hoverstad said crops were also aided this late summer and fall because there weren't a lot of temperature extremes.
"There weren't a lot of really hot days or cold nights."