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Harvest projections positive despite season's weird weather extremes

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The growing season for many Minnesota farmers started with an especially wet spring and is ending with an unusually dry late summer.

Despite the contrast of extremes bookending the season, the Star Tribune reports that a decent harvest is expected of the state's top two crops, corn and soybeans. Minnesota is among the nation’s top five producers of both corn and soybeans.

The outlook for a corn harvest is positive with the exception of southeastern Minnesota. The area never fully recovered after a May snowfall that prevented many farmers there from planting a full crop. Worst hit counties include Mower, Freeborn, Dodge, Steele, Olmsted, according to federal crop insurance data. Federal crop insurance will cover part of the farmers’ weather-related losses.

As for soybeans, a dry August may mean a slight dip in yields. Government forecasters predict a sparser crop, with yields at 39 bushels per acre, down 10 percent from 2012, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

The Associated Press reviewed conditions across the region and found lack of rain caused the drought to expand in most of Wisconsin and Minnesota, along with eastern Illinois, western Indiana and northern Michigan, and parts of Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana. Drought conditions surged in the past week in corn-producing states, with 45 percent of the region experiencing drought compared to 25 percent the week before. Soybeans in drought also increased sharply in the last week to 38 percent from 16 percent.

Stressed corn and soybean plants could produce smaller kernels and seeds that weigh less. While that could take a toll on the price farmers get for their crops, it is considered unlikely to affect consumer prices at the grocery store.

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