Farmers harvest crops after another dry growing season

As temperatures dip this week, farmers across the state are busy harvesting their crops. But after another year that was short on rain, some farmers in Rice County have seen better days.

"It’s Mother Nature [that] runs the show, we just work with her," Rice County farmer Jim Purfeerst told FOX 9 on Monday. He expects to finish harvesting soybeans on his 4,000-acre farm this week, and then he’ll get busy with his corn. But short six inches of his ideal rainfall totals throughout the year in Faribault, the fifth-generation farmer was hoping for a 75% yield and is now falling short in the 60s.

The numbers are high enough that Purfeerst’s crop insurance won’t kick in to help him. But they’re still low enough to affect his bottom line, and it’s become an all too familiar feeling.

"We haven’t reached our full potential, let’s put it that way," Purfeerst said.

"Yieldwise, we were about the same as last year," he continued. "A couple more shots of rain would’ve really helped us out."

Overall though, this year’s drought conditions in Rice County weren’t as severe or widespread as last year’s.

"I’m hearing western Minnesota is tough," Purfeerst said. "[And] north of here they didn’t receive as much rain as we did."

University of Minnesota Department of Soil, Water and Climate assistant professor Lindsay Pease says central Minnesota had more rain this year, while the outlying edges of the state were still light on it. Despite that, she’s hearing good things about harvests throughout.

"This year the crops had a little bit better of a chance," Pease said. "Moderate drought was kind of the worst that it."

While Purfeerst dodged the worst of that, he still needs more moisture to recharge his soil before the winter; otherwise, coming out of back-to-back dry years, he says next year could be the hardest yet: "It’s really getting dry," he finished.