The end of the year is a good time to reflect on what happened agriculturally in the region in 2011. Here are some highlights regarding crop production, grain prices, crop input costs and livestock profits during 2011.
This past year will be remembered as a crop year with weather extremes and highly variable crop conditions in many areas of Minnesota. The year started with later-than-normal corn planting in most of the state, with little or no corn planted in April in many areas. Cooler-than-normal temperatures and above normal rainfall existed during the early portions of the growing season. The last half of the growing season saw above-normal temperatures, and way below-normal precipitation levels in most areas. The very warm, dry weather pattern lead to rapid development, maturity and drydown of the 2011 corn and soybean crop. Many areas of southern and western Minnesota were impacted by the early killing frost that occurred on Sept. 15.
In most areas of southern Minnesota, the 2011 harvest was highly variable, mainly due to the erratic weather conditions during the growing season. Whole-field corn yields generally ranged from 140-180 bu./acre, while whole-field soybean yields were mostly in a range from 35 to 50 bu./acre, with large variations occurring sometimes on the same farm or in the same township. Some whole-field yield levels were even lower in areas that were hard-hit by late spring planting, severe storms, the very dry late-season weather pattern or the September frost. Some higher yields existed in southeast Minnesota, which had a bit more favorable growing conditions late in the growing season.
The good news with the 2011 corn harvest was the dryness of the corn and the quality of the corn at harvest. Most of the corn harvested in southern Minnesota in October was at 13-17% moisture, meaning it could go directly to farm grain bins without additional drying or could be hauled to grain warehouses with little or no price dockage for excess kernel moisture. Most of the 2011 corn crop was harvested with a test weight of 57-60 lbs./bu., which is above the standard test weight of 56 lbs. USDA is estimating the 2011 corn yield in Minnesota at 160 bu./acre – well below Minnesota’s record average corn yield of 177 bu. in 2010. USDA is estimating the 2011 Minnesota soybean yield at 40 bu./acre, which is also well below the state record soybean yield of 45 bu., set in 2010.