Corn kings and bean barons reap bountiful harvest
An abundance of bushels and miles of piles are straddling the Minnesota landscape early this year. The drought this summer has got farmers wrapping up soybean and corn crop harvests weeks ahead of schedule.
The grain elevator at CHS Prairie Lakes Coop in Lowry has one bunker with half a million bushels of corn ready to go, more than 80,000 bushels of soybeans and another 130,000 bushels of corn in towering piles.
Dan Kvitek, grain marketing division manager at CHS Prairie Lakes Co-op, said ample rain this spring helped get the crops going and the heat during the summer created ideal growing conditions.
Since June 20, a mere three inches of rain fell on his farm just north of Lowry. Kvitek's farm has been in the family since 1872 and has been ranked a centennial farm.
"This is one of the largest crops I've seen," Kvitek said. "I've been in the business 48 years."
Crops drying early caused an early ruckus in the fields. Kvitek said usually when corn is combined it contains 20 percent moisture which won't keep in a bin. The corn is either brought to the elevator to be run through a dryer or dried on the farm if a farmer has a dryer of their own.
"We didn't run our dryer more than three days here," Kvitek said. "It was dry straight out of the field."
Bean harvest started on September 5 this year, it usually begins around September 20 - by that time this year, the harvest was three-quarters done, Kvitek said. Also, corn is generally started around October 10 and that is already approximately 90 percent complete.
"The reason it was so stressful this year was the corn was dry in the field. We didn't have any rain delays," Kvitek said.
A domino effect resulted from the early cultivation. Trains are used to haul the grain. Prairie Lakes Coop had one reserved for the end of September when they could have used four.
A lot of the beans will be transported to the West Coast and exported to China. Much of the corn that can be used for livestock feed or ethanol will go to southern and eastern U.S. to compensate for this year's drought.
2012 was a difficult year to predict, often soybean and corn growers can determine their yield when the plants are small. This year's rainfall was spotty, which affected soil and growing patterns. North of Garfield was a drier spot while south of Lowry had a little more rain.
Looking ahead to next year, Kvitek said moisture is needed badly throughout the region.
Crystal Dey Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota's Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter at @CrystalDey_Echo.