It sure is a different year when it comes to farmers getting their crops in the ground. This year’s cold, snowy April has made sure of that.
The USDA’s weekly weather and crop bulletin for April 21, says that zero percent of the Minnesota corn crop has been planted this year. That’s not surprising considering the kind of April we’ve experienced.
This time last year Minnesota farmers had 10 percent of the corn crop in and the five year average for the state’s farmers has been 11 percent.
At the national level, only four percent of the corn crop is in the ground. That compares to 26 percent of the corn crop being planted last year and the five year average is 16 percent.
Much of the ‘corn belt’ has yet to put a corn seed in the ground. Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North and South Dakota and Wisconsin are reporting no corn being planted.
Illinois and Indian, which are states that extend way below the Mason Dixon Line, have one percent of the crop in.
So most Minnesota farmers don’t have to fret about farmers in other states getting too far ahead of them.
The wet April has improved soil conditions. The USDA reports that topsoil moisture 3 percent very short, 14 percent short, 59 percent adequate and 24 percent surplus.
Subsoil moisture is 18 percent very short, 38 percent short, 40 percent adequate, and 4 percent surplus.
Soil temperature is still in the ice box. As of Tuesday the six inch soil temperature was 37 degrees at a Mankato reporting station.
These factors cause the USDA to estimate the approximate date to begin full scale field work will be around May 7.
The wet month has recharged much of the top soil in the county and the state and helped reduce the severity of the drought.
As of Wednesday, St. James has had 4.69 inches of precipitation for April compared to a monthly average for April of 3.15 inches. The county is experiencing 50 percent above average rainfall.
That’s helped free the area from the grip of the drought. According to the latest drought monitor index reading, Watonwan County has fallen back into the severe drought category. Two weeks ago we were in the extreme drought category.
The top soil’s water supply is replenished. Now if it stops snowing, dries up enough and warms up enough the farmers can get busy.