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Despite drought, Minn. farmers' incomes skyrocketed in 2012

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Minnesota farmers came out on top last year while the rest of the country dealt with the crippling effects of a severe drought. Net farm incomes in the state soared 50 percent to a record $297,000 per farm, the Pioneer Press reports.

An annual joint report by the University of Minnesota Extension and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities released Thursday is based on the books of 2,291 Minnesota farms.

The Star Tribune reports growers of crops such as corn and soybeans had a median income of $254,000, up 72 percent. Last fall's corn harvest was also up 15 percent from 2011, allowing farmers to cash in big when the prices jumped.

Dale Nordquist, an Extension economist with the U of M’s Center for Farm Financial Management, says growers on average likely reaped their best incomes since the early 1970s.

Livestock producers in the state didn't fare as well because of the high feed prices, but still came out OK.

Cold weather and drought are putting farmers behind schedule this year. Producers don't expect full-scale fieldwork to begin until April 26th, about two weeks later than last year.

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Minnesota's cornfields will average 168 bushels an acre this year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Pioneer Press reports this would be Minnesota's largest corn crop in state history and make the state the second largest corn producer in the country -- only trailing Iowa.

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The U.S. Drought Monitor data released Thursday show Minnesota is getting even drier but is in better shape than the rest of the Midwest. Despite the nation's drought conditions, farmers in the state should be in the clear according to recent crop reports.