Crops slow to take this springPublished 11:20am Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Wet and rainy conditions have plagued farmers across the Midwest, leaving many crops stuck in the mud.
Even with a favorable start earlier this spring despite wet conditions, cold weather has taken its toll on area agriculture.
“We’re easily a couple of weeks behind,” said Paul Dubbels, seed manager in the agronomy department at New Horizons just outside Fergus Falls. “Actually, there are people still planting beans. It’s too late for corn now, but I know some, myself included, that might try to plant some in wet spots in the next couple days.”
Farmers have planted about 90 percent of the expected corn crop this year, which is behind the five-year average of 99 percent, according to the Associated Press. Soybeans are at 72 percent, much lower than the 95 percent average for this time of year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported only 2.6 days were rated suitable for fieldwork last week.
In this area, Dubbels said farmers have planted roughly five to 10 percent less than previous years.
That’s not the only problem, however. The wet weather has kept the ground cold, which has slowed crop growth. Plants are well behind where they have been in the past, according to Dubbels.
“It hasn’t been the rain as much as it has been cold weather,” Dubbels said. “When you have rain every so many days the ground gets cold and everything slows down. The crops you see in this stage are where they should be in late May.”
One alternative has been to plant soybeans instead of corn in certain areas, but farmers still have problems getting seed in the ground on time. Many farmers across the state now expect to file insurance claims for “prevented planting” rather than plant crops, and Dubbels said some will in this area as well.
The cure, of course, is a good mixture of warm weather and rain. While that may not be in the immediate future, Dubbels said most farmers in the area are thankful for what they do have.
“Relative to most areas, we have most of our crops planted, so there is reason to be optimistic,” Dubbels said. “Some don’t have much, like down near Rochester they haven’t gotten anything done. It’s not all gloom and doom, we just need to get summer going.”