First frost hits MN early

It’s too early to tally losses, but an early morning dip below the freezing point last Thursday morning affected many crop producers across Minnesota, hitting some while sparing others, according to reports from across the state.

A frost on September 15 is earlier than average and comes in combination with a wet spring this year which delayed planting in some regions. The combination will mean, particularly north and west of the Cities, that some corn and soybean crops have not reached full maturity and the cold snap may arrest development and lower the test weight of grains, oilseeds and other farm products.

“We had about 28 degrees (Thursday morning),” said John Mages, a farmer in Belgrade in Stearns County, and vice president of Minnesota Corn Growers Association. Mages reported that some crops which had not reached full maturity will be affected by the cold temperatures, “We have many green soybeans that were just starting to turn, corn about half milk line, there will be some damage.”

Many around the state, however, report that it was a close call, with no apparent damage.

“I had 30 degrees (Thursday morning),” Bruce Peterson reported from Northfield. He is an MCGA board member.”The upper leaves did freeze on both the corn and beans but I would expect little loss from it, 

Ryan Buck in Goodhue reported much the same, “It was about 30 here! The tops of the bean leaves are dead but under canopy they are fine! Corn the first few rows some leaves are dead but once again inside the field more it is fine! (There) should not be any yield loss.”

Buck serves as treasurer of Minnesota Corn Growers Association.

Heading all the way to the western border, in Beaver Creek near Luverne, Lyle Rollag reported a similar close call: “I also had about 30 degrees with about the same damage as Ryan and Bruce. (We) dodged a bullet!”

“Here in Western Renville county, we had a killing frost of 26 degrees at 6:30 a.m.,” said Myron “Mickey” Peterson, a farmer in Sacred Heart, Minnesota and a representative on the Minnesota Corn Research & Promotion Council. “The beans that were green are turning black this evening but the ones that were turning yellow should not have too much damage.  The corn is mostly dead from the lack of rain so I think that the early planted corn should be okay.”

Two Willmar area farmers likewise reported frost, which damaged some crops, but spared others.

“Here in western Kandiyohi/eastern Chippewa County we had 29 degrees for a few hours,” said Noah Hultgren, who farms in Willmar and serves on MCGA’s board of directors. “I don’t believe the corn yield will be harmed.  Our edible beans probably lost 15-20 percent of their yield.  Soybeans were probably not hurt as badly, but they’ll definitely be affected.  Sugarbeets for the most part won’t be hurt.”

“We’re not sure about the effect to yields, but it sure smells outside tonight as my soybean leaves shrivel up,” said Willmar farmer Chad Willis, vice chair of Minnesota Corn Research & Promotion Council. “We’ve also seen a lot of white corn leaves today. I am guessing it did not do the yields any good.”

Though weather challenges have played a very prominent role this growing season, across the US, corn producers still expect to bring in 12.5 billion bushels of corn–the third largest harvest in history.

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