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Farmers enjoy good harvest season

MANKATO (AP) — This was the fall that area farmers had long waited for. A near perfect growing season and a mostly dry September and October allowed for a quick harvest and strong yields.

Harold Wolle, who farms with his son Matt near Madelia, said the two previous years were a trifecta of bad news — cold wet springs, wet falls and low crop prices.

“In 2018 I told my son, don’t worry 2019 will be better. But it was worse,” Wolle said last month. “But now we’re getting a good crop.”

Kent Thiesse, farm management analyst and vice president at MinnStar Bank in Lake Crystal, said the merging of great yields and higher prices is a welcome relief.

“For many farmers 2019 was the worst they’ve ever had in their farming history. And to turn around and have one of the more favorable years shows how extreme things can be.”

Andy Oak, who farms near Le Center, said the good fall will bring some relief to those farmers who are on shakier ground financially.

“We got kicked around pretty good by Mother Nature the last couple of years. This will help heal some financial ills from the past couple of years,” Oak said.

While most farmers still have fairly strong financials, some are struggling, both financially and emotionally, the Mankato Free Press reported.

Deacon Tim Dolan, of the New Um Diocese and a former Extension educator, has for years counseled farm families in distress. He said that in the first months of the pandemic his services were sought out.

“I was probably talking to three to five families a day. Now it’s down to a few a week,” Dolan said.

He said the number of mediations between farm families and their lenders also has crept up as a couple of years of low commodity prices and now the pandemic caused more families to fall behind on payments.

Soybean prices were pushed up in early fall as China began buying more beans as agreed to in the Phase 1 trade agreement it made with the United States.

Rising exports mean there may well be record U.S. exports to China over the next year. But that record volume doesn’t mean the goals of the Phase 1 agreement will be met. That’s because the trade deal goals are based on the exported value of soybeans sold and while recently higher soybean prices are still lower compared to most prior years.

And Wolle said continuing trade war posturing is still harming the sale of soybean and corn byproducts.

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