How will corn yield, fall corn mazes be affected by drought?

Minnesota farmers were praying for rain this summer that didn't come in many parts of the state. So, as we inch closer to fall, how might some favorite fall activities be impacted by the drought?

In the final days of summer, the plants at Degler Farm in Chanhassen should be taller and the corn should be larger. Even some of the farm’s best corn is only six or seven feet tall, and it can grow much higher, according to Todd Degler from Degler Farm.

In a typical year, families wouldn't be able to see over the top of the corn maze. But even a corn maze isn't immune to Mother Nature, and this year, she didn't offer farmers like Degler the rain his crops needed.

"Thankfully, we're kind of a small operation here. But for the bigger guys that this is all they do – it'll definitely affect them," Degler said.

The farm in Chanhassen transitioned over the last few years from just a crop farm into an agritourism event where families can pick out pumpkins, learn about agriculture during a hayride or slide down the giant slide.

"It's been a lot of fun, a way for families to kind of do something together with their kids," Degler said.

It's been a tough year on the state's agriculture industry because it’s the third consecutive year of drought conditions.

"The corn is competing for moisture and there isn't enough to go around – it just doesn't grow as tall," Degler explained.

The good news is the lowest parts of the field have fared better and grown taller because the water drains down the hills.

"The most impact was on the hillsides because not only are they short water, but those are going to be the places that are short fertilizer and the nutrients that the corn needs to be healthy," Degler said.

He’s now looking ahead to harvest in mid-October when he’ll find out how much the lack of moisture has affected the yield potential.

"It's maybe a little too soon to tell, but we know it'll be affected. It's just the question is ‘how much,’" he said.