Snow Stalls Corn Harvest

Snow Stalls Corn Harvest Click to Enlarge Photo: Unsplash

(KNSI) - An early snowfall that blanketed much of central Minnesota in white last week might set back farmers who are harvesting corn this fall.

Tom Haag, who farms near Eden Valley, said he had about 300 of his 1,000 acres of his corn harvested before snow fell on October 20th. That winter storm broke historic snowfall records on that date in St. Cloud and the Twin Cities, and more snow arrived on October 22nd.

The issue with snow, Haag said, is that it clings on to corn stalks and leaves, and when that corn is harvested, more moisture is brought inside the combine.

"Back on the back of the combine is called the sieve and the chaffers — that's the cleaning part," Haag said. "They will fill up with material, and that will put your corn out over the back of the combine, which is no good."

The solution is to wait until the snow melts and the moisture can evaporate, but with Tuesday temperatures expected only to reach 33 degrees in St. Cloud, that melt-off can take several days. Haag said he expects to be back in the field harvesting corn by Friday.

"The positive part about this snow is what it does is insulate the ground a little bit," Haag said. "So, with these cold temps, the ground doesn't freeze, and we are still allowed to do tillage."

Despite recent precipitation, Haag said his corn is drier this year compared to last year's crop due to better growing conditions over the summer.

"This little bit of moisture that we did get now, the corn [moisture percentage] might come up some, but not really a lot to make us worried about the increase in moisture and taking longer to dry," Haag said.

Haag said he doesn't anticipate any crop loss from the early snow, as severe winds didn't impact his farm.

According to data from the USDA Monday, 72 percent of Minnesota's corn crop has been harvested. At this point last year, only 19 percent of the state's corn had been harvested.