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Poor weather hammers area farmers

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An unfortunate mixture of persistent rain and low temperatures has taken its toll on local crops this year, pushing back planting dates by nearly a month and possibly taking a chunk out of farmers’ yields.

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Scott Dau of Leaf River Ag in Wadena estimated Wednesday that planting had been delayed from 15-20 days across all types of crops, including corn and soybeans. Dau said sandier soil, common to the area around Wadena is more likely to let rainwater pass through it but denser soil typical of the Bertha-Hewitt area and the Menahga-Sebeka area does not let water permeate through it as much and therefore is more severely impacted when there are excessive amounts of rainfall.

“East and west (Wadena County) has been the least amount of trouble from the standpoint of negative crop impact,” Dau said. “North and south has been greater problems.”      

Roger Trosen, who farms over denser soil southeast of Bertha, said his soybean fields were planted around June 18, but they were supposed to go in a month earlier. His corn fields also took a hit, he said.

“The corn is behind... it’s uneven in the fields, and there’s bare spots here and there where there was too much water,” Trosen said. “I don’t know what it will do, but it’s got a long ways to go to get ripe.”

Normally the water doesn’t pose much of a threat, Trosen said, but this season is different.

“This year is probably the wettest I’ve seen it in (the) 25 years I’ve been here,” he said.

Mike Stevens, executive director for the Wadena County branch of the Farm Service Agency, said prevented planting insurance claims-- or claims taken out when farmers miss planting deadlines for other insurance-- were filed for approximately 300 acres of land in Wadena County, out of about 60,000 acres of farmland total. Wadena County is faring relatively well compared to the rest of Minnesota, Stevens said.  

“We can take all this rain because we’ve really sandy soil,” he said. “We’re in pretty good shape -- the rest of the state, not so good.”

Stevens said the rainfall has not yet reached the point where yields would be affected.

“We’re right at that window where we need the maximum amount of growing days to get us to harvest, so if we end up with a week of straight rain below 60 degrees, it’s going to affect yields -- but we aren’t there yet, so I don’t want to panic anybody,” Stevens said. “If we start losing growing days, that’s going to drop our yields down.”

Dau said that yields likely would in fact be decreased in light of rainfall, lower temperatures and minor flooding, but the yield decrease would not be extreme.

“In my opinion, if we don’t have any greater weather problems in the future, we don’t have an early frost,  I think we will have a respectable crop that isn’t going to be as good as last year,” he said.

The increased temperatures over the the past several days are a welcome change of pace for corn crops, Dau said.

“This corn is really, really growing,” he said. “It needs sunshine, it needs warmth.”

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