Above average temps, lower rain levels stress crops in Minnesota

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Minnesota crop farmers are continuing to feel the heat from above-normal temperatures and lower rain levels in the state, The Associated Press reports.

A report issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Tuesday said the statewide average temperature was 76.7 degrees -- 12 degrees above normal -- and the average 0.66 inch of rain fell statewide, 0.15 inch below normal.

Rainfall amounts were highest in north-central and northeastern regions of the state.

Statewide, however, topsoil and moisture levels continue to drop.

Among the crops being affected by the warmer weather are soybeans, according to the USDA. The agency says 94 percent of soybeans are setting pods, which is nine days behind the normal pace.

In addition, only 8 percent are turning yellow. By contrast, that's far behind the average pace of 23 percent. Last year at this time, 52 percent of soybeans were turning yellow, the agency says.

Despite the difficult conditions, some farmers in the state are reporting progress.

A crop watcher in Pipestone told the Minnesota Farm Guide Tuesday that he hasn't received any measurable rain in the past two weeks, but the warm, humid weather has been helping his soybeans fill and corn dent.

"The lighter soils are showing some drought stress, but we need the heat to push the crops toward maturity before frost," Jim Nelson told the Guide.

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