Serving Minnesota and Northern Iowa.

Yields better than expected this harvest

By Janet Kubat Willette

Date Modified: 10/16/2012 2:15 PM

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Harvest is progressing at a rapid pace, far ahead of last year and even a "normal" year.

As of Sept. 23, the most recent data available at presstime, 30 percent of Minnesota's corn was harvested, compared to 1 percent last year and a five-year average of 2 percent. For soybeans, 45 percent were harvested as of Sept. 23, compared to a five-year average of 5 percent and 2 percent last year.

A killing freeze of 24 degrees on the morning of Sept. 23 brought the growing season to a close, according to the weather records kept at Southern Research and Outreach Center in Waseca. The freezing temperature arrived about a week ahead of normal, but the heat of the summer pushed growing degree unit accumulation 8 percent above normal.

This was the warmest growing season since 2005, SROC reports in its weekly weather update.

The very warm growing season and rapid maturity process for corn has led to some stalk weakness across the region, Kent Thiesse writes in his weekly Focus on Ag column. Thiesse is vice president of MinnStar Bank in Lake Crystal and a former Extension educator.

Thiesse says the harvest progress thus far this year is more typical of late October than late September.

"Variability is probably the term that best describes the 2012 crop yields," Thiesse writes. "That variability is from farm-to-farm, field-to-field, in the same field and even during the same trip across the field."

Thiesse reported corn yields ranging from 20 bushels per acre to more than 200 bushels per acre. Moisture is running from 15 percent to 25 percent, with continued field dry down.

In southwestern Minnesota, corn yields are all over the board, said Liz Stahl, a University of Minnesota Extension educator based in Worthington. She's heard reports ranging from zero to more than 200 bushels per acre.

Yields depend on soil type, water holding capacity of the soil and timely rainfall.

Overall, yields are higher than what people thought, said University of Minnesota Extension educator Jodi DeJong-Hughes.

In the Clarkfield area, corn is yielding around 140 to 150 bushels per acre at 12.5 percent moisture with a 59 to 60 pound test weight. Near Madison, moisture levels are near 14 percent. Corn near Holloway is yielding in the 190s. There was some tip back on corn southwest of Clarkfield, DeJong-Hughes said.

Yields near Kenyon are 200 bushels per acre plus, said David Mund, manager of Interstate Mills in Kenyon. Moisture ranges from 14 to 18 percent and test weights are extremely good, almost 60 pounds.


Soybean yields have been described by many as "better than expected."

Thiesse said yields in south central Minnesota range from 45 bushels to 60 bushels per acre. In areas of the region that suffered drought stress, soybean yields of 30 to 40 bushels per acre are more common.

A good chunk of the soybean harvest is done in southwest Minnesota, Stahl said.

Soybean moisture is running 8 percent to 10 percent, which may cause some harvest loss from pod shatter.

People have been pleasantly surprised by the yields, Stahl said. They are running from disappointing to fantastic, which is from the mid-30s to more than 70 bushels per acre.

It's pretty amazing, she said, to be able to produce these kinds of yields with the little moisture that fell this season.

In the Kenyon area, Mund said soybeans are yielding 60 bushels plus per acre with moisture ranging from 8 percent to 15 percent.

Soybean moisture is dropping fast, DeJong-Hughes said. Soybean moisture is running at 8 percent with soybean yields typically in the 40s in her area.

It's dry

While the weather has been perfect for harvest, there are concerns about dry soils.

Across Minnesota, topsoil moisture levels were rated 33 percent very short, 45 percent short and 22 percent adequate on Sept. 23. Most of Minnesota is listed in moderate to extreme drought, according to the Sept. 25 Drought Monitor.

It's the driest its been at Southern Research and Outreach Center since 1977, when soil moisture records began being kept. There is 1.51 inches of available soil moisture in the top five feet of soil.


There wasn't much disease pressure this year and only a few fields reached threshold for aphids, Stahl said. It really paid to scout fields before spraying for aphids because the numbers to warrant treatment weren't there in most fields.

Corn root worm was the bigger issue this year and is something growers will want to watch for next year.