Planting quickly headed to the finish thanks to dry weather

May 27, 2023

Tim Krohn, The Free Press, Mankato, Minn.

May 27—The area around Paul Torkelson's St. James area farm was in the bull's-eye for heavy rains that hit the region in mid-May.

"We got dumped on. Some people said they got up to 12 inches," said Torkelson, who is also a member of the Minnesota Legislature.

But he said most farmers were rolling this week. "We'll finish up a little corn and then do soybeans."

He estimated about 90% of corn in his area had been planted before the rains came. "There is some ground that will have to be replanted."

Torkelson estimated about 15% of soybeans had been planted in the area as of late this week.

He said that in an ideal year they'd have all their corn planted in April and soybeans done the first two weeks of May. "But there's rarely an ideal year."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's May 22 Crop Progress reports said Minnesota farmers had 80% of their corn planted and over half the soybeans have been planted.

Tom Hoverstad, a scientist at the University of Minnesota Southern Research and Outreach Center in Waseca, said progress has been good in his area.

"They're wrapping up planting and starting some replanting for those areas that got drowned out. There are still some areas that aren't dried out yet."

He said that farmers will need to make decisions on whether to replant parts of fields that had ponding. Plants can usually survive being under water for a couple of days but start dying if under water for several days.

Hoverstad said farmers have to calculate how many plants survived on any given acre that was ponded. Most farmers plant 35,000 to 40,000 corn plants per acre. "So if they count 25,000 plants or so, they will get 85% yield. That's usually pretty good and better than starting over (by replanting)."

He said time is quickly running out for planting or replanting corn. "After June 5 you don't want to replant corn. But beans you can run it into July," Hoverstad said.

Beyond finishing up corn planting, some farmers are catching up on weed spraying that was delayed by the rains.

Southern Minnesota farmers should have great weather to finish spring planting as the forecast is calling for warm to hot weather with little or no rain through at least early next week.

Temperature in the last week averaged 61.7 degrees, 1.6 degrees warmer than normal in Waseca.

Rainfall totaled just 0.03 inch or 1.01 inches less than normal.

Growing degree units totaled 92.5, which is 17% more than normal. Since May 1, the area has accumulated 265.5 GDUs which is also 17% more than normal.