Mixed Outlook For Local Farmers

Posted at: 08/15/2014 6:38 PM
By: John Doetkott

Photo: ABC 6 News
Photo: ABC 6 News

(ABC 6 News) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts this year will be a record breaker for American corn and soybean growers.

But after heavy rains damaged a significant portion of crops in Minnesota and northern Iowa, many in our area aren't so optimistic about this year's harvest.

Heavy June rains turned some area fields into small lakes, and while the water is long gone, many local farmers say they still feel the setback.

"I'd say we're probably somewhere between 10 days and two weeks behind," said Marlin Fay, who farms near Grand Meadow.

Fay said the uncooperative weather has made this year a challenging one.

"It's been a cooler than normal summer and stuff is progressing slowly,” Fay said. “Now we've got into a period where we haven't had rain in quite a while."

Corn needs heat to catch up to where it should be, but looming drought conditions have created a bit of a catch-22, with the cooler temperatures actually helping to lessen the damage.

"That's been the other saving grace,” Fay said. “It's been cooler while we've been dry and so it hasn't hurt the crops as bad as it would if gets up to 90 degrees and stays dry."

The U.S.D.A. predicts a national harvest of around 14 billion bushels of corn and nearly 4 billion bushels of soybeans.

Both would set records, and the forecast has sent prices falling, meaning even average crop yields for Minnesota farmers won't translate into average profits.

"We went from corn last year that was between $5 and $6 [per bushel], down to corn now that's sneaking below that $3 mark,” Fay said. “That's a lot of dollars per acre."

Still, Fay and others are staying optimistic that the weather will eventually turn around.

"This is just one of those things that you take mother nature for what she gives you,” Fay said. “It's better to be lucky than good in a lot of cases."

While our area is not considered in a drought by the National Weather Service, most areas are two to four inches below normal rain totals so far this summer.