Farmers make planting progressWORTHINGTON — A stretch of dry days last week finally created an opportunity for farmers to get into the fields to get their corn crop planted, but rain early Monday morning — and more in the forecast for today — may force them to temporarily park the planter.
By: Julie Buntjer, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — A stretch of dry days last week finally created an opportunity for farmers to get into the fields to get their corn crop planted, but rain in the forecast for today may force them to temporarily park the planter.
Statewide, only 28 percent of the corn crop had been planted as of Sunday, compared to 93 percent a year ago and 65 percent at the five year average. According to the Minnesota field office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service, less than half — 41 percent — of land has even been prepped for planting.
The statewide data doesn’t paint an accurate picture of what’s going on locally, however, as farmers across far southwest Minnesota took advantage of last week’s string of dry days to get the crop in the ground.
In Jackson County, Alpha farmer Loren Tusa had just 120 acres of corn left to plant Tuesday morning, and was hoping to get back in the field by afternoon. Many farmers in his area have already finished corn planting, and those who haven’t finished are close to being done.
Tusa plans to move right into soybean planting once all of his corn seed is in the ground.
Planting in the region kicked into high gear a week ago when high winds helped dry out water-logged fields.
“When the ground was finally fit, it was in really good shape,” Tusa said. “It’s mallow and loose and really makes for some good planting conditions. When it was fit it was good, when it was wet, it was wet.”
Larger planters and tractor amenities like auto-steer are making it possible to plant more acres more quickly, and keeping farmers in the field after sunset.
“In the old days, when it got dark, we quit,” said Tusa. “That’s not the case today. With auto-steer, when you don’t have to worry about seeing the mark on the planter, darkness doesn’t make much difference.”
While the Monday morning rain may have created delays for farmers, Tusa said it did not “break my heart,” adding that it will help boost fertilizer, herbicide and chemical effectiveness.
By Tuesday afternoon, Reading farmer Randy Lubben was heading down to road to return to his corn planting after a couple of days off. He had planned to finish on the corn by the end of the day.
“It’s going good so far,” Lubben said, adding that about 90 percent of the people in his area are done or “real close to being done” with corn planting.
“A lot of people are planting beans or waiting until Thursday,” he added. “After this next rain, they’ll go into beans.”
Lubben, who also sells Pioneer seed, said some of his farmer customers had been getting anxious to get into the field after the wet spring and below-normal temperatures. Still, the area hasn’t had the heavier rains that some regions of the state received.
“I think we are really blessed versus a lot of other areas,” Lubben said. “The fields are dry — there’s very little wet spots. Willmar, Minneapolis to Rochester has caught inches of rain and we’ve kind of dodged that bullet.”
Across the state line in Iowa, farmers managed to get 61 percent of the corn crop planted last week, according to Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey, Spirit Lake. In his weekly press release about the Iowa Crops and Weather Report, Northey said last week was the second largest planting week on record in Iowa — the record dates back to 1992, when 64 percent of the corn crop was planted in the first full week of May.
“The weather this past week was nearly perfect, as the dramatic progress made in both corn and soybean planting shows,” said Northey. “With the good conditions now, we should have a good crop coming this year.”