WORTHINGTON — Ben Krohn farms south of Worthington, but he’s also a crop insurance agent with Compeer Financial, and for the past week he’s been fielding calls from fellow farmers impacted by last Saturday’s hailstorm.
“From the reports I’ve heard and the pictures I’ve seen from some of my clients, (the crop) really got beat up bad,” Krohn said.
Yet scanning the farm fields that surround his place south of Worthington, the corn and soybean fields are looking pretty nice. That’s how it goes — scattered thunderstorms can wipe out crops in one area and leave other areas with nothing more than a nice shot of rain.
Krohn’s insurance work spans five counties — Nobles, Rock, Murray, Cottonwood and Jackson — and, as a whole, the crops look “fantastic,” he said.
“Early planting really helped things get off to a good start,” Krohn shared.
While pockets of hail and wind damage have occurred, as well as some drowned-out crops from mid-June storms, Krohn said farmers haven’t seen a crop this nice since 2017 — before two wet years left farmers not only with oversoaked crops, but seed that never did get planted.
That all changed this year, when favorable weather gave a lot of farmers the ability to start planting the week of April 20 — and keep planting until not just the corn, but the soybeans were in the ground.
“We didn’t have any hiccups as far as weather to hold anyone back,” Krohn said. “A lot of soybeans were planted the last week of April and first week of May. It was a really fast and rapid planting progress from start to finish.”
Jim Thovson, an ag consultant and owner of Independent Ag in Slayton, said this year’s crop is far ahead of last year’s in terms of growth and maturity.
“We’re maybe two weeks ahead of normal,” Thovson said. “In Murray County, the crops are just spectacular. In Nobles County it’s been a little bit wetter.”
Farther to the north — near Canby in Yellow Medicine County — Thovson said farmers are experiencing some drought conditions and are in need of timely rains.
Thovson reported that corn was in full tasseling mode, a good two weeks ahead of normal, and soybeans are starting to form pods — also ahead of normal.
Of course, as any farmer or crop advisor will say, Thovson said, “It’s not in the bin yet.”
“I really believe our potential is quite large at this point,” he added.
University of Minnesota Extension Regional Crops Educator Liz Stahl said this year’s crop is shaping up nicely — both corn and soybean development is ahead of the five-year average, the weather hasn’t been too hot and dry, and moisture seems to be adequate over much of the area.
“We’re going to keep needing timely rains to keep things moving along,” she said. “It should be setting us up nicely for harvest, but it all depends on what happens yet.”
Stahl said farmers who were fortunate to have missed the hailstorm and excessive rains are “set up for pretty nice yield potential” at this point.
Any growing season is not without its problems, and Stahl said there have been some reports of herbicide injury in soybeans this year. Farmers were challenged to get post-emergence herbicide applied because it was too windy during the optimal application period. Off-target movement of applications have been reported, she noted.
As the growing season progresses, Stahl also said farmers should be scouting their fields for pests.
Soybean gall midge, aphids, and tar spot in corn are among the problems University of Minnesota Extension are highlighting in virtual webinars. Farmers interested in viewing past programs, or signing up for upcoming sessions, can do so by visiting http://z.umn.edu/ERCM2020. The sessions, which are a joint venture between U of M Extension and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, are sponsored by the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Corn Growers Association.
Stahl said this year’s planting season has put farmers in a better spot than they’ve been in during the past few years. Now, she said farmers just need improved crop prices.