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Rainfall slows work, but planting on schedule

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Despite the heavy rain that is keeping them out of their fields for days at a time, Minnesota farmers are on track with planting their crops. However, their counterparts across the broader region are facing more significant delays, with the potential for dire consequences.

The Associated Press quotes the U.S. Agriculture Department, which reports that an average of only 3 and a half days were suitable for fieldwork for Minnesota farmers last week. The report finds that Minnesota farmers have reached planting levels close to their five-year averages, with 97 percent of the state's corn acreage planted and soybean planting 93 percent complete.

But the Forum News Service that many Upper Midwest farmers are battling uncooperative weather for the second straight year, and many fields in the region simply won’t get planted. Producers who farm them will receive prevented-planting payments. And since many fields were planted late, crops will be more susceptible to unfavorable weather during the rest of the growing season. Late-planted crops generally don’t achieve the yield results that crops planted at the optimal times do.

Late planting was widespread across North Dakota. Last year's heavy spring rains in the region fell on fields short on moisture due to drought. This year, the region had considerable subsoil moisture, so the precipitation is more likely to remain on top of fields and keep them from being worked.

It’s too late to safely plant corn, even the fastest-maturing varieties, in the northwestern corner of the state, said Jeff Coulter, University of Minnesota Extension corn specialist. Many farmers in northwest Minnesota will plant soybeans on fields initially slated for corn, he said.

The Associated Press adds that the long, cool spring will delay Minnesota’s strawberry season by up to two weeks. Despite that, the state Agriculture Department says Minnesota strawberry producers predict a large, healthy crop. Consumers can also expect Minnesota raspberries and blueberries to ripen later than normal.

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