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Minnesota Farmers 'Pleasantly Surprised' By Strong Crop Yields Despite Drought

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - For much of the summer, the dry weather was being compared to the drought of 1988.

That was a bad year for Minnesota farmers and many have been anticipating a challenging harvest season. But that's not necessarily the case.

"I go back to '88 where we had one-third of a crop of corn," said Brian Peterson.

Through decades of farming, Far Gaze Farms near Northfield has seen it all. A drought in 1988, a tornado in 2018 that caused millions of dollars in damage, and now in 2021 a drought.

But what began as soybean harvest skepticism for Peterson and his family, has turned into optimism.

"I always like to be cautiously optimistic and we've been pleasantly surprised," said Peterson.

Some parts of southern Minnesota are getting up to 70 bushels an acre for soybeans. That's a win for farmers, considering how the growing season started.

There are a number of factors that allowed soybeans to recover in many parts of the state. Timely weather and genetics were key.

"The old adage is, 'the August rains make the soybean crop.' I think that's the case. It came a little bit later, sometimes in September," said Dave Nicolai, University of Minnesota Extension. "But nonetheless, good crop, good yields and that should reward the farmers financially."

That won't be the case everywhere, as parts of central and western Minnesota still lack good soil moisture. But in Dakota and Rice counties, where late summer rains came, it made a world of difference.

"Financially it does very much help the rural economy. So there is a spin-off effect in terms of that," said Nicolai.

A forecast that shows drier weather in the week ahead could also bode well for the corn crop.

"We were predicting all along low to maybe an average yield, but some of these yields have been normal to above normal," said Nicolai.

Farmers say if the weather stays dry this fall it also means they won't have to spend as much money drying their crops this harvest season.


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