Rainy Spring Forces Minn. Corn Farmers To Race The Clock

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s no secret that it’s been a cool, rainy spring. But where most of us see wet ground, some Minnesota farmers see reduced yields.

Minnesota corn farmers want to see healthy plants in the warm sun, like the conditions shown in pictures from last year’s bumper crop.

But instead, they see corn fields too wet to plant — and the clock is ticking.

“If you compare to the five-year average, yes, we definitely are behind the norm at this point,” said Dave Nicolai of the University of Minnesota Extension.

A USDA crop report said that as of May 8, only 28 percent of Minnesota’s corn crop is planted, compared to 98 percent on the same date last year.

If the corn can’t be planted soon, it may not have enough time to mature before the frost of autumn.

“There might be a slight yield reduction in terms of corn planting, if we can’t get into the field and plant corn by the middle of May, approximately about a 3-percent yield decrease,” Nicolai said. “If we get to late-May, it becomes much more serious, probably around 15 percent in terms of a yield reduction.”

The problem? Wet soil is compacted by heavy farm equipment to the point that the roots of the corn seedlings can’t establish themselves. So the tractors on many farms are idle, while farmers wait for some help from mother nature.

The good news is that corn farmers — using modern equipment — can get a lot of their crop planted with just one week of dry weather.

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