Drought conditions widening in Minnesota

7:30 AM, Sep 1, 2013   |    comments
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LE SUEUR, Minn. - David Braun calls it the "Year of Too" -- too wet and too cool followed by too hot and too dry.

His Le Sueur County corn fields show the result. The stalks are short, thin and brown and are a month premature. The ears of corn are half their normal length, with shallow kernels.

"It's more like popcorn, than field corn," says Braun, who raises hogs and farms about 2,800 acres.

He can tell you the date his farm last received a significant rainfall. It was July 13, six weeks ago.

The few rains since have provided very little moisture.

"You'd come out here a couple hours later and it wouldn't stick to your shoes," Braun says.

In contrast, Braun's irrigated corn -- about 15 percent of his crop -- stands 10 feet tall, with long full ears.

Sandy soil makes Braun's farm more susceptible to drought than some.

Numbers released this week by the U.S. Drought Monitor show much of Minnesota to be abnormally dry, with vast sections of central and southern Minnesota in a moderate drought.

Ryan Ponwith, an agronomist with United Farmers Cooperative, says precipitation would still be helpful.

"Another couple shots of rain (and) we'll make it to harvest, still a respectable yield for what the crop has gone through this season," Ponwith says.

Braun now hopes for half a crop on his non-irrigated land. Too much has already been lost to expect much more.

"You can say your prayers and that's all you can do."

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