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Farmers are waiting to plant their crops

Published 10:59am Friday, May 3, 2013

CLARKS GROVE — The late, big snowfall isn’t helping farmers any, but it might not be hurting anything just yet either.

Farmers often do like to have corn and soybeans planted in April, but if they get crops in by the end of May it should still be fine. Clarks Grove farmer Brian Thompson said it will all depend on what happens this fall, too.

“Mother Nature has the final say,” Thompson said.

Thompson was already out planting corn on Sunday and Tuesday and said he knew it might be a risk. This is his 35th year of planting, and he’s seen all sorts of weather. He remembers a first of May years ago where he rode a snowmobile in the morning and a motorcycle in the afternoon. He’s planted corn and had it sprouting out of the ground and still survive a snowfall, and he said the 13 inches the area got Thursday most likely shouldn’t hurt the 350 acres he’s already planted.

“It actually kind of insulates the ground from the cold weather we’re going to have these next few evenings,” Thompson said.

It will all depend on Mother Nature and when the snow melts, but Thompson hopes to be back in the fields by Wednesday at the earliest, though it may be later next week. Right after he’s done planting corn, then he’ll plant soybeans. He said it’s hard to hate the snow, as it might be a boon for the area.

“It’s frustrating because with drought conditions we need the moisture,” Thompson said. “Come August we may be happy for this moisture we’re getting now.”

Thompson’s farm didn’t lost power from the storm, but they did lose some tree branches. He spent some of the day Thursday helping family members who were without power and had downed trees. Even though the weather halted planting, there are always things to do on the farm. Thompson said they’ll work on machinery to make sure it’s all ready to go as soon as the fields are ready.

“Can’t fight Mother Nature, you just got to work around it,” Thompson said.

 

Farming around Minnesota

Cold temps are keeping farmers from their fields around the state, even though there’s no snow cover. Field corn needs a minimum soil temperature of 55 degrees to germinate. The University of Minnesota Southern Research and Outreach Center in Waseca recorded soil temperatures (at 2 inches) of 51 degrees Sunday and 61 degrees Tuesday. Soil temperatures at that depth generally are close to the current air temperature.

In its weekly crops and weather report for the state, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says Minnesota farmers have managed to begin only very limited field work, mainly on higher ground and well-drained fields.

“If the harvest is early, they’ve all got dryers,” Marshall seed salesman Lyle Thiesse said. “They just haven’t used them in two or three years.”

Despite the late start, experts say there’s still time to plant. Corn yields in Minnesota don’t typically suffer unless planting is delayed past mid-May, although there’s some concern about the impact on yields for spring wheat and other small grains.

Sandy Ludeman’s 2,500-acre farm in Tracy, about 50 miles east of the South Dakota border, is covered with snow. A year ago, he had finished planting corn. This year, he’ll be lucky if he can start in two weeks.

Ludeman says he’ll consider switching from his typical 105-day corn to 95-day corn if planting runs late.

“I guess I’m not abnormally concerned about it,” he said. “I’ve farmed close to 40 years, and we’ve had wet springs before, but if it gets too late, it affects our yield.”

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.