Minnesota seems headed for another successful year of corn and soybean yields.
Federal officials reported Monday that the state's corn crop condition was rated as 62 percent good and 19 percent excellent, and soybeans were 75 percent good or excellent.
Weather, of course, will determine the final outcome of yields as crops move into the high-growth days of July.
Noah Hultgren, president of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, said his area near Willmar in west-central Minnesota was a little dry this spring but is doing better now.
"Crops got just the right amount of rain in the last few weeks, and they've really taken off," he said.
The weather has been a bit windier than usual and that makes it harder to spray for weed control, Hultgren said, but most producers are in pretty good shape.
The report also estimated that 65 percent of spring wheat, 82 percent of sugar beets and 88 percent of potatoes are in good or excellent condition.
Although the overall crop conditions are healthy, University of Minnesota Extension educator Dave Nicolai said there have been areas of hail damage, including one stretch about 5 miles wide and 25 miles long in Brown and Redwood counties.
"There's always variability across the landscape in terms of weather," Nicolai said. "There's some dry areas in western Minnesota that have been missed by the rainfall as opposed to the southern and eastern parts of the state."
Excessive rain in some parts of southwest Minnesota has flooded fields or delayed planting, he said.
It's too late to plant corn, Nicolai said, but producers still probably have a week or so to replant soybeans if their fields suffered damage from hail or standing water.
July is the "grand growth phase" for corn, he said, and timely rainfall will be essential.
"The old saying is 'Knee-high by the Fourth of July,' but that was years ago with older hybrids and genetics," Nicolai said. "Now our corn is much bigger than that at this time of year — waist-high or chest-high."
Extension corn agronomist Jeff Coulter said that despite some local crop damage, the 2016 corn crop is average or above average and about one week ahead of normal. "Overall, the crop looks good for the state, but it's still quite early to be able to forecast how that's going to translate into final yields," he said.
"We still have a ways to go yet, and it's going to be the second half of July and the first part of August that is going to be the critical time for corn," Coulter said.
Farmers watching the weather also will have their eyes on the markets.
Last year, Minnesota farmers produced record yields of corn and soybeans, but grain prices remained stubbornly low for the third consecutive year. Many ag economists expect little change in the near future, and recent corn prices have been about $3.40 per bushel, which is at or below the cost of production for many growers.