Soggy spring proves to be challenge for area farmers

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 22, 2006

By Lee Bonorden, staff writer

&160;Ryan Miller, University of Minnesota Regional Extension educator, crops, has studied the soggy spring and drawn some conclusions.

&8220;Undoubtedly this has been a very wet spring and a problematic planting season for farmers in far southern Minnesota and northern Iowa,&8221; Miller said. &8220;It was May 6 and 7 when we planted two corn trials at Kuiter’s farm at Clarks Grove, site of the annual University of Minnesota Extension Service and Riverland Farm Business Management Field Day.&8221;

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&8220;That was the last significant rain-free period we have had near Albert Lea,&8221; he said.

According to Miller, the wet weather in Albert Lea is &8220;fairly representative of the weather experienced in many of the southern counties in Minnesota.&8221;

&8220;State climatology maps can help create a perspective on how wet the season has been,&8221; he said. &8220;From April 1 to May 15 many of the southern counties were at 200 percent of the normal precipitation, and a large portion of the area was at the 98th percentile for precipitation.&8221;

&8220;For some historical context, if we were to compare April 1 to March 15 precipitation totals from a 100 different years; 98 years would be lower and only two would be higher,&8221; Miller said.

What impact has the soggy spring had on farmers?

&8220;For farmers this level of precipitation has created a challenging growing season by limiting the number of days suitable for field work,&8221; he said. &8220;In fact, there are many farmers who have not yet planted all of their corn, and as May 15 passes, many farmers wonder what delayed corn planting will do to their yield potential.&8221;

From data compiled at the University of Minnesota, corn planted April 25 is considered to have 100 percent of the potential yield and corn planted on May 15 has 91 percent yield potential, according to Miller’s calculations.

&8220;As we move past May 15 yield potential falls to 88 percent on May 25 and to 83 percent on May 30,&8221; he observed.

So, what does Miller say farmers need?

&8220;At this point we need a couple of warm, dry days to improve field conditions enough to finish planting this crop,&8221; he said.

Tuesday’s sunshine and blue skies with warm temperatures and a breeze were about as good as it can get, but Minnesota weather changes quickly.

Miller remained optimistic and encouraged farmers to stay that way also.

&8220;Keep your eyes on the forecast and be ready to go when the time comes,&8221; is Miller’s advice.