Wet fields continue to delay planting

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April ended with the warmest high of the spring when it hit 80 degrees, but the month’s legacy of very cold temperatures and near record snowfall has farmers waiting to get into their fields.

“Cool temperatures, muddy fields, and frost in the ground have delayed planting of spring crops,” according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service report released Monday.

“Snow has melted in most fields with frost still working its way out of the ground. Farmers that were able to work in the fields were busy with field preparation, spreading fertilizer, rock picking and planting,” the service reported.

April 2018 went down in the record books as the coldest for the area with a mean temperature of 34.6 degrees – nearly 11 degrees below average. Low temperatures for the month averaged 23.6 degrees, 10.5 degrees below their average of 34.1 degrees, ensuring the frost was very slow to leave the ground.

As of Sunday, the soil temperature at 2 inches at the Swan Lake Research Farm near Morris was 45.7 degrees. At 4 inches it was 41.8 degrees.

These soil temperatures are too cold for good corn seed germination and early corn seedling development, according to Kent Thiesse, a farm management analyst and former Extension agent. “Research shows that 50 percent corn emergence will occur in 20 days at an average soil temperature of 50 degrees, which is reduced to only 10 days at an average temperature of 60 degrees.”

A few farmers were able to get into the fields this past week with 10 percent of the state’s sugarbeets planted, but that is far behind last year’s 45 percent and the average of 44 percent.

Spring wheat planted was reported as 2 percent complete, compared with 20 percent last year, and the five-year average of 34 percent.

Oats planted were reported as 3 percent complete, compared with 37 percent last year, and the average of 41 percent. Barley planted was reported as 1 percent complete, compared with 10 percent last year, and the average of 25 percent. Potatoes planted were reported as 2 percent complete, compared with 29 percent last year, and the average of 26 percent.

Pastures remain dormant in the northern parts of the state as spring calving continues. Pasture conditions were rated 9 percent very poor, 16 percent poor, 31 percent fair, 40 percent good, and 4 percent excellent....


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