This year's crop yields are below average, but better than expected.

That's the recurring feedback Winneshiek County farmers are giving as they finish up this year's harvest.

"When you consider how little rain we had, it's amazing how well some farmers did," said Vicky Hinsenbrock, farm loan manager with Winneshiek County Farm Service Agency.

Close to the Minnesota border, Hinsenbrock said she heard of corn being harvested at up to 150 bushels per acre.

"There are even isolated incidents of 180 to 190 bushels per acre," she said.

Brian Lang, ISU Extension agronomist, said the yields get better farther south and farther west in the county.

"Yields are all over the place, but I still go back to the 'better than expected' quote we've heard from a lot of people this year," he said.

According to Hinsenbrock, many farmers who traditionally harvest their corn for use as corn ended up chopping it for silage.

"In those cases we heard anywhere from 75 to 85 bushels per acre," she said.

Lang added whatever corn numbers are reported, people need to remember to add in the silage.

"One thing you won't see in the statistics or county averages are all of the disastrous fields that were chopped for silage," he said.

Hinsenbrock added most of the soybean yields have been good to average, bringing as much as 60 bushels per acre.

"Again beans have done very well, when many thought they wouldn't. Most people would say they have outperformed their expectations," she said.

Doug Van Sloten, general manager of Winneshiek Coop, said everyone who has hauled into Decorah is "pleasantly surprised and real thankful for the crop, especially based on crop conditions."

Too little, too late?

Lang said when he is asked about the effect the recent rain will have on crop production, he tells them the last rains to help this year's harvest came back in August.

"But any rain we can get absorbed in the soil now will help the harvest next year. We have about 15 inches of rain to catch up on," he said.

Lang said although the current rain will have little effect on the grain crops, any rain through the end of this month could benefit pastures.

A good point

Hinsenbrock said in her conversations with farmers this fall, one farmer made a comment that has really hit home with her.

"He said 'If this had been in my dad's day, we wouldn't have had any crop at all (with the lack of rain the area received) ... He's right, and I think we can credit the evolution of genetics. It's really amazing how well crops did perform, all things considered," she concluded.