Nonprofit, independent journalism. Supported by readers.


Harvest begins on state’s sweet corn crop

ALSO: Ag land values are soft; House Ag Committee chair visits farm in Raymond; Duluth deals with cats on a bridge.

With about 100,000 acres of farmland devoted to sweet corn, Minnesota brings one-third of all sweet corn to the table. Mark Steil of MPR (via the Austin Daily Herald) checked in with a couple of corn producers to see how the summer has gotten along. Curtis Linge, 63, owner of Lakeside Foods, said the harvest should be good. The crop has seen heat with adequate moisture. Linge said he was seeing a yield of about 7 tons of ear corn an acre. If that’s the average yield this year, the state will produce the equivalent of about 700 million cans of corn through companies such as Birds Eye, Seneca Foods and Del Monte as well as the famous Green Giant label.

Bryan DeGroot, farmland sales specialist in Kandiyohi, Chippewa and Renville counties, says land values are soft and still receding from the peak in 2013-14. Tom Cherveny of the West Central Tribune in Willmar reports that much of the soft land market is due to the low price of corn — about $1 below the break-even point for many. Though input costs remain high, DeGroot remains hopeful: A bin-busting crop waiting in area fields and big yields can reduce the losses. DeGroot, who grew up on a farm in Prinsburg and earned his broker’s license in 1980, said price changes have been dramatic: “I sold very good farmland for $700 an acre at its low and for $10,800 at its peak — same township, within a few sections apart,” he said.

Meanwhile, Linda Vanderwerf of the West Central Tribune reports on the visit of the House Ag Committee chairman, U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway. He visited a farm in Raymond late last week and said he and Rep. Collin Peterson, the top Democrat on the committee, get along and will do good things with the bill. He visited the Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative in Renville and visited two ethanol plants.

Someone is throwing cats off the Blatnik Bridge between Duluth and Superior. Maria Lockwood of the Duluth News Tribune reports that several kittens have been found on the bridge with their right front shoulder pulled out of the socket. Chris Wagner, community service officer with the Superior Police Department, says cats could never get to where they have been found on their own. Dr. Bob McClellan of Superior Animal Hospital and Boarding Suites said that type of injury could come if someone “had a hold of the leg and flung it. It’s more consistent with someone whipping the cat out, holding a leg.” Wagner said that would qualify as animal cruelty, a felony-level offense. Efforts are under way to adopt out the kittens already found as well as to discover who is putting these kittens in jeopardy.

Article continues after advertisement

As Somalis become more established in St. Cloud, they’re also growing more politically involved and active. Kirsti Marohn at the St. Cloud Daily Times reports that not only are both parties courting the Somali vote in Stearns County, but the Somali community is organizing forums and events and are inviting candidates to speak. “They’ve become a significant voting bloc now here in the St. Cloud area,” said Zach Dorholt, DFL candidate for the Minnesota House in District 14B. With an estimated 40,000 Somalis living in Minnesota, “frankly, it’s just a matter of math,” said Matt Lindstrom, political science professor at the College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University.

After 30 years, a statue of William and Charles Mayo returned to its original home in Mayo Park on Monday. John Weiss of the Rochester Post-Bulletin writes that the 11,000-pound bronze statue with a granite base was placed in Mayo Park in 1950 as a way to honor the brothers who founded Mayo Clinic. About 30 years ago, the statue was moved to the front of the civic center. More than a year ago, the statue had to be put into storage when the civic center underwent expansion. When the time came to replace the statue, the city decided to put it back in its original spot. Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede said it’s only fitting the statue be returned to where it belongs. “To me, they are going to be back to their rightful place,” he said.

The Mankato City Council appears ready to ask voters to continue a sales tax. Mark Fischenich of the Mankato Free Press reports that next Monday, the council will give a final vote on whether to put a question on the November ballot asking voters to extend the local sales tax to 2038. Continuing the half-percent tax for 16 years past its scheduled 2022 expiration would finance $47 million in public safety emergency communications, flood control and levy system improvements, regional water quality, expansion of multi-modal transit facilities, recreational facilities, matching grants for publicly owned museum, supportive housing, senior citizen facilities, and improvements to governmental entities outside the City of Mankato. 

Down in Sioux Falls, a Luverne woman who was shot in the back of the head as she was apparently fleeing a party early Saturday is in stable condition but is not talking to police. Barry Amundson of Forum Newspapers said police have not identified the 28-year-old woman. They said the shooting occurred about 4:40 a.m. Saturday in a north-central Sioux Falls neighborhood. Soon thereafter, there was a report of an accident about a mile away in northwestern Sioux Falls where a minivan driven by the woman hit a retaining wall. The injured woman, with blood dripping from her head, was with a 43-year-old Sioux Falls man who walked away from the scene, but was stopped and questioned soon afterward. He was not injured. The van had multiple bullet holes outside and inside of the minivan, Clemens said.

Meanwhile, Jennifer Ruth Hjelle, 29, of Crookston, faces charges of driving while impaired after being arrested Sunday. Officers said she drove more than 120 miles with a blood alcohol content nearly four times the legal limit with her 5-year-old son in the back seat, according to the Forum News Service. Officers said they found Hjelle passed out in the driver’s seat of a Cadillac Escalade, which was still running, with her 5-year-old son in the back seat, according to a statement of probable cause. The boy was returned to his father’s custody. A Breathalyzer test showed Hjelle’s BAC was 0.303 percent, almost four times the legal limit of 0.08 percent. The criminal complaint stated she was on her way back from the Moondance Jam music festival in Walker, Minn., which is approximately 120 miles southeast of Crookston.