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'We Are Mentally Exhausted': Muddy Fields Delaying Harvests For Minnesota Farmers

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- After a wet planting season last spring, rain is impacting harvest for many farmers across the state.

Wet fields mean some are two weeks behind or more when it comes to crops like corn and soybeans.

"We've seen this happen for a day or two, but never the whole season," said Greg Otto of Otto Farms Chopping near Lester Prairie. "It's a muddy mess."

Greg and his crew have the video to prove it. While chopping corn silage for livestock feed, they've had to resort to using tractors to pull trucks through the fields. It's a first for Greg and his business.

"It takes a lot more people to do the same job and it's dangerous. The fields are tough going, slippery, dangerous getting out of the fields and out on the roads," said Greg.

Greg Otto
Greg Otto (credit: CBS)

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, so far only about 40% of the state's soybeans have been harvested compared to about 60% at this time last year. Corn is also behind. Where you farm in the state determines just how far behind.

"I would say it's close to a month. A month behind," said Greg.

For the Ottos, it's been a year to remember, or to forget, depending on how you look at it. What they and other farmers really need is a run of sunny, dry days to get back on track before the snow starts to fly.

"You're trying to drive where you don't get stuck, but not matter where you drive, you get stuck," said Heidi Otto. "I would say instead of coming home at night and being physically exhausted, we are mentally exhausted from fighting mud all day long."

Once the corn is out there's also the matter of drying it. Many farmers will spend more money to artificially dry their corn this year than they have in previous years.

Experts say it's not just Minnesota. Farmers in Wisconsin, Iowa and the Dakotas are also experiencing a difficult harvest.

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