Crop loss could be extensive from flooding

Farm Forum

MANKATO, Minn. — Last week’s field flooding was unusual for its breadth.

“The entire region got an excessive amount of rain. I don’t think there’s any areas that were spared. Some had 4-6 inches in one shot so they obviously have a more serious situation,” said Kent Thiesse, a farm analyst and vice president at MinnStar Bank.

Getting a handle on how much crop loss there is will unfold in the coming weeks, depending on how fast water recedes, whether more rain falls and after more detailed surveys can be done.

“Crop loss will be from fairly moderate to severe. It’s certainly not going to be a record yield this year,” said Kevin Paap, who farms in the Garden City area.

“There’s a lot of standing water out here. It just takes a long time for it to go down.”

Thiesse said that for most farmers federal crop insurance probably won’t do much.

“If they have big areas (lost) they may collect, but it’s based on average yield so even if you lose 10 or 15 percent of your production you’re not going to get anything,” Thiesse said.

Karl Duncanson, who farms with family members in the Mapleton area, was trying to be optimistic about the week-long rains, which brought from 3 to as much as 20 inches in southwestern Minnesota. Many Mankato area farmers saw 5-10 inches.

“We have enough water but we can’t do anything about it,” Duncanson said. “We’re fortunate the wind wasn’t as severe as other places and the rain wasn’t as severe as other places.”

He said the stress on plants comes at an inopportune time for corn.

“Corn is setting itself up for its reproductive stage already, deciding on cob length and kernel size.”

Soybeans that aren’t completely drowned out aren’t as affected this time of year. “Beans are made in late July and early August. Corn sets itself up earlier,” he said.

Despite the setback, Duncanson said there’s a long growing season ahead. “What happens the rest of the season, the rainfall and temperatures, will make more of a difference than what happened now.”

Farmers may have an option of replanting flooded areas into soybeans, but the window is closing.

“The rule of thumb is soybeans by the Fourth of July,” Paap said. “But it’s a lot of hassle to do it and if there’s any more rain then that’s the first to drown out again.”

Thiesse said that whether some farmers can replant with early maturing soybeans will depend largely on how quickly fields dry.

“Because of the frequency of the rain the entire drainage system is backed up so the water is a lot slower to recede,” he said.

“And of course the areas that need to be replanted are the wettest areas in the field, so it could take a long time.”

Beyond the rain some regions sustained heavy wind and hail damage. “There was some hail in the Vernon Center and Mapleton areas, but otherwise I didn’t hear of a lot of damaging hail in Blue Earth and Nicollet counties,” Thiesse said. “But Martin and Faribault (counties) had more.”

He said many farmers also sustained wind damage to trees and buildings across southern Minnesota.

And, Thiesse said, there is an added insult to injury for many farmers whose fields were flooded.

“A lot of farmers are dealing with the same thing as folks in the city — they have water in their basements.”