Early Sunday morning the temperature at the National Weather Service monitoring site at the Benson airport fell to 28 degrees. It was cool, but not a record. The record low for May 4 was set in 1967 when it fell to 21 degrees.
Could that Sunday morning low be our last frost of the spring?
Based on daily temperature records for Benson that go back to 1953, half the last frosts have come by May 2 with half May 3 or later. Last year, the final frost of the spring didn’t come until May 12.
Based on the NWS 10-day forecast, lows are supposed to be in the 40s with highs in the mid-60s – no low 30s ahead. With each passing day, the chances of a frost get smaller. After May 10, only one in five years has seen a frost.
The latest the area has seen a killing frost was May 22 in 1963 when it fell to 28 degrees. The earliest last frost was in 1987 when the temperature fell to 29 degrees April 5 and didn’t drop below 32 degrees again until the fall.
In 2013, the last frost came on May 12 while in 2012 it was April 23. But this year wasn’t nearly as bad as we endured last year.
Farmers can make up lost time quickly
Farmers can make rapid planting progress these days when soils warm and the ground dries out. Last year, when the May 12 crop report came out from the USDA, only 18 percent of the state’s corn crop had been planted, but one week later that figure had shot to 70 percent. Sugarbeets planted jumped from 50 percent to 89 percent.
Soybean planting was delayed as farmers concentrated on corn, which needs to get in the ground earlier to ensure the best yields. Still in that one week last year, soybean planting jumped from 2 percent to 23 percent; it went to 42 percent the next week.
Photo: Recent rain hasn't changed the need for burning dry undergrowth. The Cook home northeast of Benson was the site Sunday evening of a controlled burn. Benson firefighters kept the burn along a planned line, even though the blaze showed lots of color. Submitted photo.