BROWN COUNTY - As temperatures flirted with the 90-degree mark Tuesday, corn combines began taking corn out of a number of area fields.
"It's a very dry year. Corn is just hitting maturity now. We're starting to see a black layer in corn, meaning it is no longer taking nutrients," said South Central College agriculture instructor Wayne Schoper. "We're just on the cusp of fall harvest."
Schoper said corn moisture content is usually 30 to 33 percent, but a lot of it is dryer than that this year, even in the low 20s, which is good for harvesting.
"We had a little rain in August, but a corn crop is usually made in July," Schoper added. "It's one of those years with average to below average yields where you really need to harvest every acre. The crop is coming in very fast. We'll be in full swing harvest in another week or so."
He predicted most area corn yields to be from 125 to 160 bushels an acre.
On the positive side, Schoper said a killing frost may take place later than it did a year ago when the first killing frost was on Sept. 15.
"I think we're at least two weeks from having that," Schoper predicted. "We've got better crops around here than almost anywhere in the Upper Midwest. We're really blessed to have what we do, quite frankly."
He predicted area soybean yields in the high 30s to low 40s bushels per acre.
The National Weather Service (NWS) reported it would take a 9-inch rain to erase the drought in the Austin-Albert Lea area.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) updated its Drought Disaster Designations Map to include Sibley County in south central Minnesota.
To assist producers facing extreme drought conditions, the USDA will utilize nearly $16 million in financial and technical assistance to help crop and livestock producers in 19 states cope with the adverse impacts of the historic drought.
In addition, the USDA will initiate a transfer of $14 million in non-obligated program funds into the Emergency Conservation Program. These funds can be used to assist in moving water to livestock in need, providing emergency forage for livestock, and rehabilitating lands severely impacted by the drought.
(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at email@example.com).