Drought hurts Minnesota's soybean crop

The drought is hurting Minnesota's soybean crop, with the latest federal estimate showing that the projected harvest will be less than previously estimated.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts the state's soybean crop will average 39 bushels an acre -- a two-bushel decline from last month's estimate.

At today's soybean prices that's a roughly $175 million loss to the state's agricultural economy.

The drought is shrinking the number and size of soybeans per plant, Southern Minnesota crop consultant Bill Miller said. "There were quite a few pods that were forming at the top of the plant and most of those aborted, so there are no pods on the top," Miller said. "And now what it's doing is it's cutting down on the size of the soybeans themselves. The beans will be smaller so that's going to result in a lower yield." If rain falls over the next 10 days it could still help some soybean fields, Miller said.

Rainfall was excessive early in this year's crop season, but by August drought conditions had returned. More than half of the state has moderate to severe drought.

But even though much of the Midwest has dry soil, the widespread drought has not been nearly as damaging as last year's historic drought.

U.S. corn production is predicted to average 155 bushels an acre, up 26 percent over last year.

Minnesota's estimated corn crop is still up one bushel from last year, at 166 bushels an acre, the same as last month's.

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