MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The stalks in Minnesota’s corn fields are close to 7 feet high. The kernels are still developing and if the weather holds up, the ears reach maturity in about a month and a half. That’s when harvesting starts and there are indications of yet another bumper crop.
There is never too much corn, but the higher the yield, the lower the market price. That means the smaller the profits for the farmers.
“Every place you go in rural American, or Goodhue, or Welch, or Vasa, that’s the topic of conversation,” said Ryan Buck, president of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association.
Buck has been working on his wife’s family farm in Welch for nearly a decade, and has seen both good times and bad times. He’s expecting this year’s crop to bring about $3.50 per bushel on the market. That’s lower than recent years.
“There’s a little bit of competition between everybody, but guys like to talk about what works for them, or what they’re doing,” Buck said. “But we’re not going to give away too many secrets.”
The fate of all farmers depends on imports, and how creative they can be in the market. Buck sells half of his corn harvest to the ethanol industry, which may start to sag.
“The EPA is proposing to slash the amount of ethanol that goes into gasoline by 10 percent. That’d be a huge nick on the corn market. There’s an ethanol plant out in Luverne that was converted to bio-butenol that’s put into jet fuels. That would be a huge market there,” Buck said.
Minnesota’s corn crop is a mixed bag, according to Buck. The eastern part of the state is expected to have solid yields. Western Minnesota had some troubles with too much rain in the spring. The west-central and northern Minnesota had a late planting season, and a cooler summer in those regions mean a less-mature crop.
Buck predicts his farm, which also produces soybeans, will do a little better than break even this year. That means the business survives for another planting season in the spring.
“Every year has its struggles, but every year has its rewards,” Buck said. “It’s always rewarding. It’s all in how you look at it. It could be doom and gloom, but as long as we’re out here doing what we love, and able to do it again next year, that’s a win in my book.”