Bumper corn crop expected for Minnesota farmers as land prices soar

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicted that Minnesota farmers should harvest 1.4 billion bushels of corn this season, making it the second largest crop in the state's history.

MPR reports that this year's corn harvest will be slightly smaller than last year's record haul because of the cool, wet, late spring in some parts of the state. In 2012, Minnesota's corn harvest was valued at $9.6 billion, up nearly a third from the year before.

Minnesota's soybean harvest is put at about 272 million bushels, making it an average crop. Last year's soybean crop was up one quarter to $3.4 billion.

As a result of the plentiful crops, analysts say the prices farmers receive could be driven lower. MPR quoted David Bullock, senior economist at St. Paul-based AgriBank, thought that corn prices could slip to as low as $4 a bushel in the next few months, half of last year's peak. But he said the average price should settle at around $4.75 a bushel.

Meanwhile, Forum Communications reports that the price of farmland across the Upper Midwest is hitting record heights, according to an annual report issued Aug. 2 by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The report shows that land values across the region outpaced the national per-acre price of cropland, which rose by an average of 13 percent in 2013. In Minnesota, cropland rose to an average $4,850 per acre, 19.8 percent more than a year earlier. In North Dakota, prices soared to $1,910 per acre, up 41.5 percent. In South Dakota, values jumped to an average of $3,020 per acre, up 30.2 percent.

The same USDA survey also noted substantial increases in pasture prices, with prices in the Upper Midwest exceeding the U.S. numbers. Nationally, the average value of pasture rose 4.3 percent to $1,200 per acre. In Minnesota, the average pasture value rose 16.7 percent to $1,750 per acre. North Dakota’s average pasture value rose 28.6 percent to $630 per acre.South Dakota’s average pasture value rose 20.3 percent to $710 per acre.

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