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Killing freeze will cut corn yields

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A hard freeze Wednesday night or early Thursday morning could cut corn yields, but it won't kill them, said Tom Lilja, executive director of the North Dakota Corn Growers Association. Which is good, since corn prices are at record levels, so every bushel means round about $6, about twice typical value to farmers.

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"If we get down to 28 degrees for four hours or more, that's a killing frost," Lilja said Wednesday. But most of the corn crop in the state, despite the late, wet planting season, is mature enough to yield grain, he said.

"We would like two more weeks, maybe," he said. "But to get an average crop this year, after all we have gone through, is pretty good."

The National Weather Service said many areas of eastern North Dakota and northwest Minnesota would see temperatures as low as 25 degrees, for perhaps several hours, early Thursday.

Lilja said a killing freeze now would mean a loss of 5 to 7 percent in weight, and yields, in general across the several counties where such low temperatures are expected.

It would hasten harvest, too, which otherwise mostly would not begin until next month.

Corn has become a major crop in North Dakota in the past six years, rivaling wheat in terms of bushels produced. This year, with average yields projected and record prices, farmers stand to taken in the kind of revenues that used to be seen mostly from sugar beet fields.

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