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Red River Valley farmers with corn still in the field aren't getting a lot of cooperation from Mother Nature this fall. It's likely too late for this ear of corn, which was found Tuesday morning in a field south of Sabin, Minn. (Ann Arbor Miller/The Forum)

Muddy mess for Red River Valley farmers

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Muddy mess for Red River Valley farmers
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

FARGO - The area's wet fall has led to major harvest delays, particularly for sugar beet farmers in the southern Red River Valley.

Wahpeton, N.D.-based Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative is considering leaving up to 21,000 acres of beets in the ground, company spokeswoman Susan Johnson said Tuesday.

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Heavy rains in the southern Red River Valley have made a muddy mess of beet fields, she said.

Minn-Dak had hoped to harvest about 108,000 acres.

Johnson said she doesn't remember another harvest hindered so much by weather.

Moorhead-based American Crystal Sugar wrapped up its harvest earlier in the fall.

Heavy, widespread rains in October - combined with a cool spring that slowed plant growth - have put the corn harvest far behind schedule.

"The harvest has been on again, off again," said Jerry Larson, an Elbow Lake, Minn., corn farmer.

In a normal year, area farmers would be wrapping up corn harvest in mid-November.

This year, only a quarter of North Dakota corn and three-quarters of Minnesota corn is harvested, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Farmers in eastern Minnesota have largely finished corn harvest, but producers in the western part of the state have made less progress.

Larson said he's been able to harvest about 90 percent of his corn.

Duane Dows, a Page, N.D., farmer, said he's harvested about half of his corn crop.

That's more than many farmers, he said.

Yields generally have been good, Dows and Larson said.

Farmers will need to dry corn this year because it's too wet to store safely.

Propane prices have dropped recently, so farmers won't need to spend as much on drying costs as they had feared, Larson said.

Corn is the last of the region's three major crops to be harvested. Wheat and soybeans are the other two.

Harvest of sunflowers also is behind schedule in North Dakota, the nation's leading producer of the crop.

About 75 percent of the state's sunflowers have been harvested, according to USDA.

The five-year average is 82 percent.

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