Even though Minnesota's corn crop is doing well, the state's agricultural economy is facing a roughly $175 million loss from a projected smaller soybean crop.
Fertilizer use in farming is so prevalent that at least two dozen Minnesota communities have unhealthy levels of its by-products in their drinking water supplies. Crop researchers say there is a proven solution: perennial crops which absorb nitrates. But not many farmers have adopted the method.
Researchers say a long winter and cold, wet spring probably are to blame. They also worry that habitat loss will keep pheasant numbers down.
The University of Minnesota's Center for Farm Financial Management analyzed economic data from about three dozen organic farms around the state. They showed a median net income for 2012 of just over $85,000, more than double the $38,000 organic farms earned the year before.
The Minnesota Agriculture Department holds the first of six public meetings this week on it's new nitrogen fertilizer management plan for state farmers. The plan's goal is to prevent or minimize the impact of nitrogen fertilizer on drinking water.
Poet-DSM Advanced Biofuels is starting to hire workers for what could be the nation's first commercial-scale plant to make ethanol from corn crop waste instead of kernels.
The warmer weather forecast for the next week, including some 90 degree temperatures, should speed crop maturity, and lessen the risk of damage from a frost a little.
Michael Hartmann, the southern Minnesota dairy farmer who last year pleaded guilty to charges of illegally selling raw milk, could be jailed following a recent stop for transporting unpasteurized milk.
Minnesota farmers are expected to harvest slightly smaller corn and soybean crops this fall than last year, in part because fields in some parts of the state have been hurt by too much spring rain, followed, by streak of cool temperatures.
Farmer discontent with Congress seems to be growing almost as quickly as Minnesota's corn and soybean fields. The unhappiness is aimed at lawmakers' inability to pass the central piece of the nation's agricultural policy, the farm bill.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is asking for public comment on a plan to reduce unsafe nitrate levels in drinking water. Much of the nitrate load comes from agricultural fertilizers.
Granite Falls Energy has purchased a majority interest in a financially struggling southwest Minnesota ethanol company.
Farmland is the source for 70 percent of the nitrates in state surface waters, according to a recent study. Reducing the amount of nitrate that enters rivers and streams is a daunting job, but there are signs that some of the changes made on farms already are taking hold.
For a good example of what might seem an out-of-control tractor market, one need only look to a chilly, rain-soaked auction last March in southwest Minnesota.
The latest crop report shows that Minnesota corn fields made good progress last week, but growth is still more than a week behind schedule.