Farm Horizons, Oct. 2015

High hopes for harvest, a reversal from 2014

By Starrla Cray

It doesn’t take a trained crop observer to see that area fields are faring drastically better than last season.

The Corn and Soybean Digest reports that as of Sept. 16, a total of 2,378 growing degree units (GDUs) – also called growing degree days – have been recorded at the University of Minnesota Southern Research and Outreach Center in Waseca.

That’s 143 more days than last year, when the growing season had a total of only 2,235 GDUs.

GDUs are a way of predicting plant maturity based on heat accumulation. The calculation averages the daily high and low temperatures, and compares them to a “base” temperature. (The base temperature is the threshold at which it is too cold for the plant to grow.)

In spring 2014, many fields in Carver, McLeod, Wright, and Meeker counties were flooded, and only a small percentage of crops were planted on time, if at all.

Many farmers in ended up returning the seeds they had purchased earlier in the year, and instead of growing corn and soybeans, they put in a cover crop later in the season.

Fortunately, many fields this year were ready for planting in mid-April, and there’s been a good mix of rain and sun throughout the season.

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