Minnesota’s crops could use more rain, heat

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Thunderstorms last week brought just over six tenths of an inch of rain to the Benson area last Thursday and Friday, bringing some relief to a drying landscape. But the area is still well behind the average for July rainfall.
July averages 3.6 inches of rain, but has seen just 1.26 inches. No rain is in the forecast for the moment through Thursday and the last day of the month.
Even more than rain, what area crops need is an extended period of above average temperatures to push crop maturity along.
As of Sunday, 1,373 Growing Degree Units (GDUs) had accumulated since May 1 in the Benson area, which is 7 percentage points below average for July 27. At this time last year, the area was even a little farther behind with 1,338 GDUs, or 9 percentage off the average.
But many crops in area fields are even farther behind than what the GDUs based on a May 1 starting date indicate. Many corn and soybean fields weren’t planted until May 10 or later, as a result their GDUs that have accumulated are closer to 10 percent behind average.
Unless temperatures warm up considerably, which the National Weather Service long-range forecast says isn’t going to happen, area farmers will be looking for a late frost.

Photo:  With only 1.26 inches of rain in July so far, compared to an average of 3.6 inches, irrigators are running throughout the region.

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