Rain erases drought

NICOLLET COUNTY – While the heavy rain last weekend erased drought conditions across much of the upper midwest according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, a number of fields and roads in low areas remain underwater.

“Generally, fields have been draining well, but it’s incredible how much water is still standing out there,” said University of Minnesota Nicollet County Agriculture Extension Agent Christian Lillienthal. “There are some very drowned out areas in the western parts of the county.

About six inches of rain fell in the Gaylord area last weekend, which larger amounts to the north and east. Sibley County commissioners approved a resolution declaring a flash flood event for Saturday, June 22. The action helps make the county eligible for state and federal emergency funds.

Lillienthal said the western part of Nicollet County may also be eligible for such funding if it is determined that one-third of crop production was determined to be reduced by the rain.

“Corn and beans can’t stand much more than a day or two under water,” Lillienthal said.

He said the excessive rain, up to 20 inches in some areas the past two months, often cause corn roots to grow too shallow, which could cause plants to dry out because roots don’t extend to levels where there is year around moisture.

“If we don’t get much rain in the next few weeks, we’ll have another problem with lack of moisture in fields,” Lillienthal said.

South Central College agriculture instructor Wayne Schoper said the recent rain really greened up corn nicely, but we’re still a little behind in crop development.

“With normal precipitation and temperatures this summer, we’ll catch up,” Schoper said. “It looks like subsoil moisture is replenished. It may not be a bumper crop this year, but most fields that weren’t flooded out look quite good, despite somewhat delayed spring development.”

U.S. farmers overcame a cold and wet early spring this year, planting 97.4 million acres of corn, up slightly from 2012, according to the Acreage report released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS). The figure marks the fifth year in a row of corn acreage increases across the country.

Farmers planted a record-high 77.7 million acres of soybeans this season, one person more than last year, according to the report. U.S. farmers increased all wheat acreage this year, estimated at 56.5 million acres, slightly higher than last year.

Acreage, grain stocks and all other NASS reports are available online at www.nass.usda.gov

Schoper predicts a likelihood of lower corn and soybean prices this year.

“New crop corn at $4.66 is probably close to the cost of production, maybe a little lower, for most producers,” Schoper said. “It’s hard to predict. We’ll see how the summer goes, but with average moisture and temperatures this summer, we should have 175 to 190 bushel corn and soybeans in the high 40s to mid 50s.

“We’ve been on a pretty strong (price) run,” Schoper said. “Remember three years ago this week. Corn was at $3 and oil prices were rising.”

The National Weather Service (NWS) Climate Prediction Center forecast normal precipitation and temperatures for the upper midwest through September. For more information, visit www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/

The NWS Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Center reported the Minnesota River at Montevideo reached 13.33 feet at 1 p.m. Friday. The river was forecast to crest at 13.7 feet at 1 a.m. Saturday. Flood stage is 14 feet. The river was forecast to remain close to that level for at least the next week.

Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at fbusch@nujournal.com.

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