Corn crop harvest increased by warm weather

Warm September weather helped increase the size of the Minnesota corn crop and the U.S. Agriculture Department says state farmers should harvest more than 1.2 billion bushels.

Corn is the state's most valuable cash crop, and this year's bumper harvest is worth almost $4 billion. Farmers worried all summer that cool weather would hurt yields, but the extended summer temperatures helped.

The USDA boosted its Minnesota corn forecast 3 bushels an acre compared to one month ago. University of Minnesota grain marketing specialist Ed Usset said the increasing size of the corn harvest proves that a bit of old farm wisdom is true.

"There's a saying in the grain business that big crops get bigger," Usset said.

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Usset said the USDA typically under-estimates what farmers actually find when they harvest their fields. He said some farmers were able to beat the downturn by locking in corn sales early in the year when prices were higher.

"I would think much of southern Minnesota is in the low $3 range for cash price of corn," he said. "If they have not done any pricing already, and they did have opportunities, they're under water. They don't have a price that covers their cost of production."

Another major crop failed to increase, however. The USDA says the Minnesota soybean harvest should average 40 bushels an acre, the same forecast as last month.

Usset said the crop is far enough along that this weekend's expected hard freeze should not have much impact on yields.