The ritual of harvesting ready crops from the field marks another season’s end for farmers here in Minnesota. To put it mildly, it has been a trying year for local farmers. The primary crops of corn and soybeans flourishing across the plains are considered a significant part of this economy. This year the crop season started off unseasonable wet with flooding and only continued to present challenges all season long.
“We did get excessive rain this year but are able to replant shorter season varieties if something gets drowned out,” Josh Reinitz of East Henderson Farm, said. “We have problems with germination during heavy rain events, so we end up growing plants in our greenhouse and transplanting a lot.”
Reinitz and his family operate a small organic vegetable farm. They aren’t as subject to the same factors as many of the other local large-scale farmers. They cultivate Certified Organic foods for CSA membership and wholesale to the St. Peter food Co-op and local restaurants.
With all the uncooperative weather this year, local farmers are doing what farmers always do when they have a rough season - hope next year will be better. How else can you survive off the land if you can’t remain positive? Being smart and changing with the times also helps.
“The trend toward wet springs here has changed our mindset and market about what we do,” Reinitz said. “We are going to reduce the acres we have in annual production and plant more with perennial crops, like fruit and nut trees, along with asparagus and herbs. This way we never have to plow the soil and watch it erode away, and a perennial cover builds up soil organic matter and the whole system can handle more rain.”
Still a large amount of harvest concern remains this late as farmers work their way toward a rapidly ticking countdown with old man winter. The recent weather has been holding fair. However, with severe winter weather conditions expected soon, it’s game over for this year’s crop harvest, no matter how much is left to be done.
The USDA posts the crop progress and condition report which is a cooperative effort of the national agricultural statistics service. The Minnesota field office collects its information from farm operators via sample crop plots, mail, personal interviews, and the telephone. These agricultural statistics are published nationally, and anyone can view them online if they want to stay updated on the local summarized agricultural reports throughout the year.
“Drier conditions finally prevailed throughout all of Minnesota leading to 5.7 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending November 3, 2019,” Dan Lofthus, USDA NASS Minnesota Field Office, said. “Field activities for the week mostly consisted of harvesting crops, but there were limited reports of some fall tillage and manure spreading. The crops coming out of fields are often reported as wetter than usual for this time of year, with many producers looking to dry their crop.”