‘It isn’t late yet’

Despite the April snow, area farmers predict normal spring planting season dates

Photo by Jody Isaackson Cottonwood farmer and seed dealer Dale Louwagie said that he wouldn’t consider changing any of his planting plans unless he’s still not in the field by May 15. In fact, he’s been helping other farmer prepare their planting equipment while his 16-row planter is still in the back of his shop.


Farmers in the southwest Minnesota region that were buried in snow this April are being urged to be patient with their planting plans this spring.

“Be as patient as we can and with each other as well as the those we interact with every day,” Paul Lanoue said. He is a agriculture professor with Minnesota West Community and Technical College.

“(Remember) everyone else is experiencing the same situation and are anxious too.”

Cottonwood organic farmer Carolyn Olson is following that advice.

“It is pushing us back further than we would like to be,” Olson said of the late spring snowfall. “But it’s not unusual for us to go into early May before starting to plant.”

Olson said we’ve had snow like this in the past and also had snow after planting.

“Some organic farmers had to do some field switching already, but, we’re not changing our plans yet,” she said.

That doesn’t mean the Olsons aren’t getting anxious about it. She and her husband Jonathan are busy behind the scenes, receiving and delivering seed shipments and preparing their equipment for when the fields finally do dry off.

“Like most farmers we’re chomping at the bit to get started,” she said. “We’re hoping we can get started by Friday, May 4. The harvest will depend on how many heat units we get over the growing season.”

There are a few farmers not too worried about the late start and not reaching that point where they need to modify their planting plans.

Brian Velde, farmer from Wood Lake, is one of those people.

“It was May 5 last year when a lot of people got started,” Velde said. “We were planting corn over Mother’s Day and got a big rainfall that Monday. We had a big corn crop after that. Even if it goes past May 20, we can still get a good yield.”

Velde pointed out it was only with the aid of tiling over the past 5-10 years that helped farmers get a jumpstart on spring planting. Mid-May had been the standard prior to that.

“We still have about three weeks,” Velde said. “If we can get the planting done within that time, we’ll still have a good yield.”

Cottonwood farmer and seed dealer Dale Louwagie said he’s not worried about a late planting, either.

“It isn’t late yet,” Louwagie said. “We’ve just been spoiled the last few years.”

Sure, there’s water standing, he said, because the frost line hasn’t melted yet. But he also said with the warmer weather, that will be melted in a hurry and there will be a notable change to the fields. He said it’s way too early to change around the hybrids for a shorter growing season, he said.

“It won’t be until May 15 before I consider changes,” he said. “Probably even later than that.”