WILLMAR -- Farmers in west central Minnesota are pushing into the corn harvest, even though taking the crop now means having to dry the grain to acceptable moisture levels.
"Quite a bit of corn is started," reported Clarkfield-area farmer and Minnesota Corn Growers Association president Doug Albin from a tractor on Tuesday. Farmers are trying to find fields to harvest that are less than 25 percent moisture.
"We don't have a whole lot of choice," he said, noting the late date on the calendar. "It's time to take it out and be done with the crop."
Albin reported harvesting corn between 16.5 percent and 20 percent, with yields in the 180 bushel range. Most farmers are pleased with the corn yields but are not so happy about the higher moisture content, he added.
The soybean crop has been disappointing, topping out at low-40 bushels per acre.
"It's not the 50s, like we should have in our area," he said.
Fields that have sustained hail damage yielded as low as 6.5 bushels of soybeans an acre, Albin noted. One field in the hail path produced 22 bushels per acre, 20 bushels less than a field just one mile away.
According to the weekly Minnesota Ag News crop weather report, farmers had harvested just 19 percent of the corn crop as of Sunday. That compares to 5 percent last week, 51 percent last year and a five-year average of 43 percent.
The 19-percent figure isn't surprising, Nelson said. The crop has been a week or two behind all season, meaning farmers may need to dodge old man winter to complete field work.
"It will be a prolonged harvest," Nelson said Tuesday morning. "There's going to be a lot of fieldwork done in the month of November."
The weekly report pegged the corn moisture content at 23 percent, compared to 24 percent the previous week, 19 percent last year and an average of 20 percent.
Meanwhile, the state's soybean crop was 83 percent harvested. That's compared to 67 percent last week, 85 percent last year and an average of 88 percent.
As of Sunday, 80 percent of sugarbeets had been lifted, compared to 59 percent last week, 78 percent last year and the five-year average of 87 percent.
The report pegged corn crop condition at 12 percent excellent, 58 percent good and 19 percent fair.
As producers take in the 2008 crop, there's already concern rising for the 2009 crop. Economic conditions have pushed grain prices below the cost of production, Nelson said, while the fast-rising input costs have not diminished. Farmers are facing tough decisions, such as fall fertilizer applications, that need to be made quickly.
"They are thinking about those things as they are driving the combine," he said.