|8/12/2013 1:10:00 PM|
Better late than never
After a cold and wet spring, some Byron corn is starting to flourish
|Corn has tasseled in a corn field off County Road 5 in Byron. Photo by David Richards.|
By David Richards
They're not out of the woods yet, but conditions have improved recently for area farmers trying to yield as much of a corn crop as possible.
The freak May snowstorm, coupled with a wet spring forced farmers who chose to plant corn to do so unseasonably late.
"It's one of a kind," Bob Eustice said. "We've never been this late."
Eustice, 66, has 400 acres of corn on his property off County Road 5 just up from Byron High School.
Some of the crop he sells as grain, the rest he uses as silage for his cattle.
Eustice said his first corn was planted May 5, with the final crop in June 3. In a normal year, planting would start around April 15 and end by the first part of May. Some farmers simply didn't plant corn this year.
"There were a lot of areas that were not planted," said Jeff Coulter, corn agronomist for the University of Minnesota Extension Office. "That's unusual. Usually Rochester is a garden for corn and soy bean production."
Instead, something was missing earlier this summer.
The long rows of towering corn, normally a staple in southeastern Minnesota, were virtually nonexistent, a far cry from the past few years when yields have been above normal.
"Compared to the last couple of years, it's been difficult," said Kevin Quam, 36, whose family runs a farm off Valley High Road.
While this year's crops will yield less than in recent years, Eustice for example might get 170 bushels of dry feed per acre when he has harvested 190 or more, experts say it could have been worse.
The weather now has cooperated as of late with cooler temperatures in the past few weeks.
Coulter said that's important to the pollination process, the most critical time in a plant's life.
"This weather is helping a bad situation not be so bad," he said. "It won't be a bin buster, but it will be OK."
Eustice and Quam agreed, while adding that from now until the harvest in late fall will be crucial.
The ideal forecast would be some rain and then a late frost.
"Rain is critical," Quam said.
For now, farmers are hoping for the best, as the first corn has tasseled and the rows that were nonexistent earlier this summer, are now there.
Eustice's farm has been in his father-in-law's family since 1904 and his father-in-law, at 91, still combines each fall.
"He's never seen a year like this," Eustice said.
"No one has."
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