BYRON, Minn. — An average harvest for Mike Brooks wraps up around Thanksgiving, but this year he's hoping to be done by Halloween.

The 60-year-old Brooks operates farmland across the Byron area, growing about 50% corn and 50% soybeans.

"It's been going good," Brooks said of this year's harvest. "Going awesome, actually."

He said he got done harvesting soybeans around the same time he started harvesting them last year.

"The last week of September was was kind of cool and wet, so it was slow-going," he said. "But by October the sun was out most of the time, and these last couple of weeks it's been balls to the wall."

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Mike Brooks, who farms in Byron, Minn., plans to finish his harvest by the end of October this year, compared to years in the past when he's finished around Thanksgiving. (Noah Fish / Agweek)
Mike Brooks, who farms in Byron, Minn., plans to finish his harvest by the end of October this year, compared to years in the past when he's finished around Thanksgiving. (Noah Fish / Agweek)
On the afternoon of Oct. 13, Brooks and his uncle were out harvesting around 50 acres of land just north of Byron High School, which Brooks said used to be a city dump when he was growing up.

Brooks was harvesting corn by mid-September this year, he said. Last year he didn't start until Oct. 5.

He said yields for both corn and soybeans had been "above average to really good." Yields have been good for the past few years, said Brooks, but prices for each commodity haven't been at the same level.

"The prices for corn and soybeans have come up in the past month or so because of the derecho in Iowa," Brooks said. "That really brought prices up."

2012 was the last year that Brooks can remember yields and prices being as good as they'll be this year.

Brooks spends his time in the combine listening to the radio and watching wildlife. He sees a ton of deer, some eagles and coyotes and raccoons in the hills of southeast Minnesota.

"The coons are no good and will do some damage to your corn," he said

According to the United States of Agriculture crop report for Oct. 11, 34% of corn had been harvested in Minnesota, which was up from the five year average of 15%.

In Minnesota, 34% of corn was harvested on Oct. 11, up from the five-year average of 15%, according to the USDA report. Minnesota farmers had harvested 87% of their soybeans, up from the five year average of 49%, according to the USDA report.

Rick Beltz is an agronomist for Ag Partners based in Lake City, Minn., in the southeast part of the state. He said for most farmers in the region, soybean harvest began in early October.

"If the weather holds, (soybeans) should be out by this weekend," Beltz said.

Corn harvest began in full for a lot of farmers in southeast Minnesota in the second week of October, Beltz said.

"Most guys are just jumping into (harvesting corn) this week," he said. "Farmers were doing a little bit of corn while they were waiting for the beans to dry down, and now they're hitting the corn pretty hard."

Beltz, who's been an agronomist for over 20 years, said it was a good spring this year with most farmers getting planted early and finishing in around 12-15 days, which resulted in the "best overall yields" he's seen.

"More guys were planting beans and corn at the same time this year, and I think that's one of the main factors," he said.

He said the region experienced a lot of sunshine and a lot of heat during the growing season, and moisture at the right time.

"There were a few pockets that maybe got a little drought-y, but otherwise Mother Nature did her part," Beltz said.