Decent start to planting season in SW Minnesota

MARSHALL – Warm and dry conditions across the state allowed farmers ro being planting in earnest last week, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service released their weekly Minnesota Crop Progress and Condition report Monday.

Hanley Falls Farmers’ Cooperative Elevator General Manager Scott Dubbelde said he has heard from customers that planting conditions have been good, even despite the rain in the last few days.

“We’ve only had a couple of tenths near Hanley Falls,” Dubbelde said. “But we still need rain.”

Corn and bean farmers in southwest Minnesota took advantage of last week’s 5.1 suitable days for field work by spreading manure, applying anhydrous and fertilizer and beginning planting, the USDA said.

Thirteen percent of the state’s expect corn acreage has been planted, according to the report. Corn planting is eight days ahead of the five-year average and three days ahead of last year. Dubbelde said farmers will begin planting beans in the coming weeks after they have finished planting their corn crop.

Sugar beets are seeing the largest percent of the crop planted on this date to record, the report said, with more than half of the sugar beet acres in the state already planted in the field.

Water woes experienced in past years are slightly diminished this year, but warm and windy days have raised some concerns about topsoil conditions in some areas of the state.

Topsoil moisture supplies were rated 71 percent adequate, with 8 percent of the state seeing a surplus and 21 percent of the state being short, according to the report. Subsoil moisture levels were rated 79 percent adequate, with 8 percent of the state seeing a surplus and 13 percent of the state being short.

According to U.S. Drought Monitor, Minnesota is in much better shape water-wise than it was a year ago. Currently, less than 12 percent of the state is experiencing drought conditions (11.61 percent abnormally dry and only 1.54 percent in moderate drought). The affected area hugs the western Minnesota border – from Lac qui Parle County, north to Polk county – and has an estimated population of 10,657.

Last year at this time, more than 95 percent of the state was in a drought, with 92.13 percent experiencing moderate drought conditions.The southeastern corner of the state was the only unaffected area in 2015. In 2014 at this time, 45 percent of the state was experiencing drought conditions and the entire state was in a drought in 2013.