May Day for farmers? Not quite, but Minnesota falling behind on planting

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All of this week's rain could bode well for Minnesota's crops. If farmers can ever get them planted, that is.

The Associated Press reports the latest numbers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show that at a time of year when farmers typically have nearly one-third of their corn planted, only 4 percent is in the ground.

The discrepancy for spring wheat was even greater with just 2 percent planted compared to a five-year average of 39 percent, the USDA said.

University of Minnesota corn specialist Jeff Coulter tells the Pioneer Press the last week of April and first week of May are usually prime time for planting. But the cold, wet weather has so far prevented most farmers from getting into their fields.

Brian Thalmann, who farms near Plato in McLeod County, told KARE 11 five inches of rain have fallen on his land since Wednesday. He says not only do fields need to be dry for planting, but the soil temperature needs to be at least 50 degrees for seeds to germinate properly.

The USDA numbers show that among the 18 top corn growing states none is as far behind its planting average as Minnesota, Dairy Herd Management notes. Nationwide 19 percent of the corn is planted, which is behind the 5-year average of 28 percent.

But there is a bright side to all the rain.

The Pioneer Press reports big sections of southern and western Minnesota were still classified as being in a drought. These several days of rain should change that, even if they do push planting a little further down the calendar.

Getting grains planted by the middle of May is critical to allow for a full growing season before frost arrives in the fall. But the U of M's Coulter tells the Pioneer Press: "Assuming the rain does stop this week and farmers are able to get their crops planted in a reasonable time, then we should be set up pretty good."

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