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Minnesota corn harvest was up 15 percent, a rarity in drought-plagued year

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Agriculture officials are tallying the totals from this fall's harvest and they show Minnesota farmers produced 1.4 billion bushels, a 15 percent increase over 2011. That makes us a rare bird among the states. Wisconsin's 17 percent decline was more typical of the nation's corn belt, where drought wiped out the crops of many farmers. Illinois, for example, saw a corn crop that was not even two-thirds of the previous year's.

Minnesota's increase was the product of more acres planted, as well as timely rains. Yields were strong, with an average acre generating more than 160 bushels. While that's nothing to sneeze at, KARE 11 recently profiled a pair of farming brothers who have set the ambitious goal of 300 bushels per acre.

That goal will be elusive, though without water. And while Minnesota farmers did well in 2012, the new year could be a different story without moisture. State Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson this week offered farmers some words of caution and a few tips on how to make the most out of a dry situation.

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Related

Minnesota farmers plant 3 million acres of corn in a week

Minnesota corn farmers are expected to plant a record number of acres this spring. And nearly half those acres are already planted by the end of April. It's an improvement over last year, when a soggy spring delayed planting and pushed back the whole growing season.

USDA: Minnesota farmers will plant seven percent more corn in 2012

However, soybean and wheat crops will drop as much as eight percent because corn is more profitable. Minnesota's corn crop was valued at $7 billion last year. Corn planting is also expected to increase about four percent nationwide.