Farmers waiting out the rain

Published 9:24 am Friday, October 24, 2008

The chilly, wet weather of the last few days should move out of the area late Friday night, followed by a weekend cold snap accompanied by powerful northwest winds.

Jim Richardson, a forecaster with the National Weather Service, said he looks for warmer and drier weather conditions to prevail by the middle of next week.

“The six- to 10-day forecast looks pretty good once this low pressure system rolls through. It will be extremely windy Sunday and Monday, with steady winds of 30 miles an hour and some gusts up to 40 miles an hour,” Richardson said. “After that things look better through Election Day, warmer and drier.”

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Up to half an inch of rain could fall on southeastern Minnesota through Friday night, with a slight chance of snow showers Friday night, according to the National Weather Service.

With the soybean harvest nearly wrapped up, some area farmers are holding off harvesting corn. Hoping to let the corn dry in the fields, farmers are trying to mitigate drying costs, according to the Albert Lea Elevator Co.

“The corn is not drying down as fast as we hoped,” Tom Belshan said.

Belshan is the owner and manager of the Albert Lea Elevator Co. A cooler summer than usual has not helped area corn crops dry as quickly as was hoped. With 20 percent of the corn crop already harvested, farmers are seeing moisture content in the 20 to 23 percent range. Yields are averaging in the 180 to 200 bushels per acre range.

The 2008 crop season has seen an anomaly in the usual pattern of grain drying costs. In most years the farmers who bought natural gas earlier in the year had an advantage because the prices would rise as harvest time drew near.

“This year the price for gas has dropped as harvest approached. Just the opposite of our normal situation,” Belshan said.