June's flooded farm fields could spell big losses

5:49 AM, Jun 5, 2013   |    comments
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WASECA, Minn. -- Cold, wet weather has meant poor conditions for seeding and growing for many Minnesota and Wisconsin farmers.

Some farmers in southeast Minnesota, in particular, have not been able to plant any corn at all this year and have been forced to cut their losses.

At the Zimmerman farm in rural Waseca, it's hard to imagine corn knee high when most of the seed is still sitting in the machine shed.

"Even in the bad years, you could get a crop in and get something off it," says fifth-generation farmer Paul Zimmerman.

Zimmerman has weathered many growing conditions, but this season about half his field is still empty.

"Grain needs sunshine. It needs some warmth and it needs some moisture. Well, we're one for three right now and the other two are sorely lacking," he says.

Many farmers in southeast Minnesota are in the same mess and more than a month behind in planting. Last year, the same muddy fields were lush.

According to the latest crop report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, just 87 percent of Minnesota's corn crop has been planted, compared to 100 percent this time last year. About half the soybean crop is seeded. Nearly 97 percent was seeded at this time in 2012.

The unknown this year is already affecting grain prices, according to traders. And there is no doubt that many farmers will lose money.

Jeff Schultz helps those farmers manage price risk.

"Best case, if they have to take preventive planning, they might cover their expense," says Schultz.

"Plan Y? That's a work in progress," says Paul Zimmerman who is probably done trying to plant corn this season.

He'll get in as much bean as he can, then look at other crops just to prevent erosion and keep the soil fertile for next year.

"Raising corn, soy, any crop, it's an outdoor sport and Mother Nature's the referee and she always gets the last say."

Farmers do have crop insurance, but that really only prevents you from losing the farm, as Paul Zimmerman told KARE 11.

And there is a concern that could affect other prices down the road. Much of the product is already slated to go to ethanol plants or for livestock feed and the export market.

If there is less grown locally than expected, prices related to ethanol, livestock or exports will go up if that product has to be found elsewhere.

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