After the torrential rains of September 22 and23, harvest resumed late last week. Farmers will be going around some wet spots in many fields and tillage will be delayed somewhat until soil conditions improve to the point where they can be tilled without excessive compaction.
A large portion of our area received between 6-12 inches of rainfall during the two-day storm. To put this into perspective, at the University of Minnesota Research and Outreach Center in Waseca, measured 7.63 inches of rain for the two-day rainfall total. This was the highest two-day rainfall amount registered during the 96 year history of weather collection data at Waseca. You would have to go back to late August of 1962 when 6.32 inches fell during two days to find a similar rainfall event.
Is this true climate change or just unusual weather? Waseca has seen three monthly records broken during the last twelve months. October 2009 with 7.05 inches; June 2010 with 9.64 inches and September 2010 with 12.66 inches of rainfall all broke the previous records for those months. Consider that Waseca, with its 96 year record-keeping, encompasses 1149 months during that time span.
It is interesting to note that the Waseca location averaged 27.55 inches of rain during the 30 years from 1921-1950. From 1971-2000, this annual precipitation has increased to 34.7 inches. There are many complex scientific factors that come into play and it will be many years before we know the definitive answer to the root causes of local and worldwide abnormal weather patterns that we have seen in recent years.
By the time that this column will be published, many acres of soybeans will be harvested. As of Monday, Oct. 4, combines have been rolling through the acres where they can. The good news is that yields are above average coming in at 50-60 bushels per acre. One thing to remember is that true yields are determined by dividing the total bushels by the total acres in the field and take in all of the drowned out spots from the rainfall events earlier in the growing season. Some area fields were also affected by the hail storm that went through our area on June 25th and will not yield accordingly.
The corn harvest has also started in some areas. The corn was able to reach "black-layer" or physiological maturity this year by early September. You may remember last year that we had a very cool and dry month of July that delayed the maturity of the corn to the point that much of last year's corn crop needed a lot of artificial drying to bring the moisture levels down to storable levels.
Corn needs to dry down to about 15-16 percent moisture for safe storage on the farm. It is likely that we will be able to save a lot of money on corn drying this year as average moisture levels for corn being harvested is 18-22 percent moisture. Last year, in early October, moisture levels in corn being harvested were around 27-32 percent moisture and needed a lot of supplemental drying. Many farmers spent from $40 - $150 an acre to dry corn in 2009. In 2010 we should see this figure under $20 an acre.
We also saw a lot corn in 2009 with a test weight of well below the standard of 56 pounds per bushel. Early indicators from the 2010 harvest show that we should be very near the standard test weight this year.
Fall tillage will begin as soon as soil conditions permit. Many livestock producers need some dry weather to allow the soil to get into condition for manure application. Swine manure, for example, is typically injected into the soil and cannot be done under wet soil condition.
For further information or to comment on this article, contact Wayne Schoper at 507-794-4241 or Rich Baumann at 507-354-7836.