- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 13, 2014

WORTHINGTON, Minn. (AP) - The federal government predicts Minnesota farmers will produce 1.34 billion bushels of corn this year, up 40 million bushels from last year, yet bad weather early in the season and low prices will put the squeeze on profits for the state’s producers.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s outlook for Minnesota also predicts corn yields averaging 168 bushels per acre, up eight bushels from 2013. But that’s 20 bushels less than what Iowa and Illinois producers are expected to harvest. Minnesota soybean production is forecast at 312 million bushels, up 15 percent from last year. The average soybean yield is expected to be 42 bushels per acre, one bushel more than 2013.

The data was part of a national forecast released Tuesday for a record-breaking corn harvest of 14 billion bushels. The USDA also said soybean production nationwide also will set a new record of 3.8 billion bushels.

But up to a foot of rain fell in parts Minnesota in June, drowning out parts of a crop that got planted late in many areas. Add in some hail damage, and the weather hurt Minnesota corn just enough to turn a potential record harvest into an average or a little-above-average crop.

On the Jason Tibodeau farm near Heron Lake in southwest Minnesota, the corn appears to be in good shape. The dark green stalks are 8 feet tall or more.

“Things are looking really, really well for us locally,” Tibodeau told Minnesota Public Radio. But he also estimated that about 5 percent of his crop was lost or stunted by the rain.

If corn prices stay in the current range of $3 to $4, most farmers will lose money on this year’s crop, University of Minnesota grain marketing specialist Ed Usset said.

“I figure it costs the average Minnesota farmer $4.50 to $5 a bushel to produce one bushel of corn,” Usset said. “The math is not very pretty on corn. It’s going to be a tough year.”

But soybean prices will help offset the corn loss. Although they’re also sinking, soybeans prices are still at profitable levels. And the cheap corn is good news for cattle, hog and dairy farmers who use the grain for feed.


Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, https://www.mprnews.org

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