Waters recede in southwest Minnesota, but damage lingers
SOUTHWEST MINNESOTA — The waters may be receding in southwest Minnesota after the heavy rains and flooding in June. However, damage in the state of Minnesota is still being assessed by government officials and farmers are seeing the impact in lost yield potential in this year's crop.
Warren Jansma farms near Ellsworth and says in his area farmers received almost half of their annual rainfall in the month of June. Crop conditions in his area have dropped from the start of the season. "This is due to fields with a lot of flooded areas, washed out corn that got covered up with corn stalks and a lot of potholes," he says. As a result, Jansma and area farmers have many fields with corn and soybeans that are short and yellow. There is also an outright loss of crop where the plants were killed due to the lack of oxygen with the standing water.
Jansma was optimistic about the yield potential on his corn early this season. Even though they got the crop planted late, around Memorial Day, it caught up quickly. However, he says with the significant nitrogen loss he expects a yield hit on his corn. "We are going to do a little side dressing of nitrogen in our operation now, but I do not feel we are going to have as good a crop as last year. I feel there is just too many spots that are just drowned out and we're going to have too many lost spots," he says. He normally averages around 170 to 190 bushels per acre, depending on the location.
Adam Blume farms west of Worthington and says towards the end of June they received around 12 inches of rain in just a two-week time period. He says the water has receded in many areas, but there are still wet pockets and he has one field with 15 acres that was completely drowned out. Blume thinks those areas will be a total loss and drag down the yield on his farm to just average. "I think you should be pretty happy with that with the amount of water we had. The rolling areas do have some tremendous looking crop, but that isn't going to make up for the other areas. Right now, I would say if we had 180-bushel corn and 50-bushel beans, I probably better be pretty happy," he says.
Blume is a little more optimistic about corn versus soybeans because the corn was tall enough to handle the water. He also believes the soybeans are more susceptible to disease due to the excessive moisture, which may cut production potential. He says they need some dry weather and heat units in southwest Minnesota to help the crop snapback.
Near Beaver Creek, Jim Willers received another three inches of rain on his farm last week and that's on top of 7 inch and 4 inch rains in late June. The water is receding around Beaver Creek which was out of its banks and left behind a path of destruction. "Fields near creeks and rivers, and if you're in a good flat field, yes, some of those stood under water too long and they got starved for oxygen. Some of those are gone or they're very yellow, so we'll see how they turn out," he says.
Willers says about 10 percent of the acres on his farm are yellow so he anticipates some yield loss. "Actually, some of my better land where it's flatter probably looks poorer than the hillier ground. I think my corn crop will be fine across the board. I think my soybeans could have a 10 percent yield loss," he says.
Joe Martin, executive director of the Minnesota Farm Service Agency, says they do not have a total dollar assessment of the crop damage from the storms, as not all the damage reports have been received from the counties. Beyond crop loss, he says there was structural damage to rural roads, bridges and fences. He encourages farmers to keep good records, document and report all their losses to the county FSA office so they can get an accurate report compiled for the state.