MN corn farmers ready to plant, but waiting for drier soil

Written by Jonathan Eisenthal

The latest USDA crop progress report shows Minnesota farmers have yet to start planting corn this year. According to the five-year average, farmers have typically planted 11 percent of their corn by this date. In south-central and southeastern Minnesota, some of the larger operators have begun field work, but in western Minnesota, south to north, wet conditions have farmers waiting.

Jerry Demmer, who farms near Clarks Grove in south-central Minnesota, believes he may be able to start field work by late Tuesday afternoon after escaping Monday with minimal rain.

“There has been some activity in the area over the weekend, in western Freeborn County, and north of us, but not widespread,” said Demmer, who believes he could still get most of his crop in around the first week of May.

In southeastern Minnesota, Les Anderson, who farms in Cannon Falls, is still targeting a similar window that’s ideal for corn planting.

“There is some rain forecasted for the area this weekend…if I can get done by May 1, that’s a good start to things,” said Anderson. He believes he could get started on planting this weekend if the weather holds up.  

Anderson has seen a few select fields in his area have begun planting corn already, which he attributes to farmers with larger operations who need to go a little earlier to make their planting window.

In the southwest corner, farmers see a longer time horizon before they can get started. Bryan Biegler, who farms in Lake Wilson, reported another inch of rain Monday on top of the six inches of snow and ice dropped earlier this month.

“If we wouldn’t get any more rain, we might be able to get going next week, but the way it looks we will be way into next week before we can get started. We need a good number of 70-degree days and wind before we’ll be ready to start.”

Ground across west-central Minnesota can be variable, with some of the lighter ground getting close to being ready. Noah Hultgren, who farms near Willmar said his heavy, black dirt won’t have any activity this week, but their light, sandy soil in the northern part of the county could see light activity.

Planting itself may be more than a week in the future for west central. Jim Kanten, who farms in Milan, reports he is still up to a week-and-a-half out before they get going with even a little snow from the latest storm still hanging around.

“Most of our farm is heavier ground…If we get started in early May it’s a reasonable timeframe,” he said.

And in the northwest corner, the wet and cold has delayed them. Blair Hoseth, who farms in Mahnomen, said they were able to spread manure earlier this week, but that will be it for the near future.

“There’s still frost in the ground and the ground hasn’t given up the water… I would like to be in the field—this last week of April is always an ideal time to get started. It’ll be May before we get any serious work done,” Hoseth said.

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