Written by Jonathan Eisenthal
An April blizzard, following by cool weather made for a late start to planting in much of Minnesota farm country. And then a fresh batch of rain recently brought everything to a halt in many places.
Lake Wilson farmer Bryan Biegler said he was able to get about 150 acres planted in the second week of May, but then more rain hit. Since, he has been watching the weather closely hoping for a string of hot weather to dry things out.
“The forecast shows it warming up this week, so hopefully we’ll be going strong.” Biegler said.
All these headaches started with the mid-April blizzard that dumped a foot of snow, or more, across southern Minnesota. This was followed by weeks of cool weather, which meant the snow was slow to leave.
But in northern Minnesota, the blizzard never materialized with only an inch falling, according to Blair Hoseth, who farms in Mahnomen. So in west-central and northwestern Minnesota many corn farmers have finished or expect to wrap up their corn planting this week, before most farmers in southern Minnesota make a dent.
In the week leading up to May 13, Minnesota farmers had finished 40 percent of corn planting, according to the latest USDA report. This compares to the five-year-average of 65 percent planted by this date. In the 18 states that represent most of the nation’s corn production, planting is 62 percent complete, compared to 68 percent last year.
“We are about a week later than we like to be,” Hoseth said. “We really like to be seeding wheat in the third week of April. Last week of April for corn and the first week of May for soybeans. That’s the ideal scenario. I’m thankful we got in when we did.”
Les Anderson, who farms in Cannon Falls, reported he started planting on May 4. While he typically likes to be done planting corn by May 1, he is not worried yet about the impact of a late start to planting.
“We’re lucky. In some parts of the state it sounds like some people haven’t even gotten started. It hasn’t really affected our plans yet,” Anderson said.
While wet has delayed Anderson and Biegler, Brian Thalmann, who farms in Plato, said their farm received only a tenth of an inch of rain from the last bout, allowing them and many in their neighborhood to continue with planting. They were able to start on May 5 and have not had to pause.
“Last year we had cold weather the second half of April, so we didn’t start planting until May 5. We had the best corn crop ever. A lot more depends on the weather in the second half of the growing season,” Thalmann said.