Spring fieldwork is off to a late start because of winter’s stubborn grip on Minnesota. But yields shouldn’t be hurt as long as farmers can get into their fields soon after Easter. Southeastern Minnesota got a fresh dusting of snow Monday. But fieldwork has barely begun. The forecast calls for below-normal temperatures with the possibility of more snow. Yet southern Minnesota is rapidly approaching the traditional start of its ideal period for planting corn.
The persistent snow is delaying the beginning of fieldwork on farms across Minnesota. In its first weekly crop progress and condition report of the season for Minnesota, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says last week’s heavy snow is one reason why no days were rated suitable for fieldwork last week. Planting of some early crops such as oats usually begins around now.
Lower corn prices fueled a dramatic 78 percent drop in Minnesota farm income last year, according to an annual report released Thursday by the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system and University of Minnesota Extension.
You may have noticed higher prices at the grocery store, and you can blame the extreme weather. Unfortunately, analysts believe prices will only go higher.
The value of U.S. crops fell 9.8 percent last year as prices declined for major crops, including corn and soybeans, from 2012′s record high levels, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in its annual estimate.
The apple season is underway in Minnesota. Some of the favorites, like sweetango or honeycrips, are ready for the picking at local orchards. But you may have noticed the harvest is a couple of weeks behind schedule. And Craig Schaper of Minnetonka Orchards says the search to find fruit without any flaws is a difficult task. “It’s devastating. I mean, this is what you pray for not to happen,” Schaper said. “You know, this is first time in 36 years that we’ve really been hit hard.”
Hot, dry weather is putting stress on pastures across Minnesota.
A growing number of Minnesota farmers are relying on irrigation to ensure they can produce a crop when the weather turns dry. So far this year, Minnesota Public Radio reports, farmers have applied for 466 irrigation permits.
The late-summer drought is deepening in central Minnesota, according to data released Thursday. The new U.S. Drought Monitor map shows that several counties in central Minnesota are now in a severe drought.
Minnesota crops continue to feel stress from warmer-than-normal temperatures. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Tuesday the statewide average temperature last week was 76.7 degrees, nearly 12 degrees above normal. An average of 0.66 inch of rain fell statewide. That’s 0.15 inch below normal. North-central and northeastern regions of Minnesota received higher rainfall amounts.
Minnesota farmers are expected to harvest their second-largest corn crop in state history. According to this week’s projections from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Minnesota’s corn and soybean crops are expected to be slightly smaller than 2012.
Greg Spoden is the state climatologist for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Compared to last summer, Spoden says this summer feels cool. “July of 2012 was the second hottest month in Minnesota history,” Spoden said.
Cooler weather has given Minnesota farmers a break from the heat. In its weekly crops and weather report for Minnesota, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Monday that statewide, temperatures for the week averaged 6.7 degrees below average. Despite the cooler weather, 5.9 days were suitable for field work last week.
Farm to table, you’ve heard the concept, now take a trip to Tangletown Farm in Plato, Minn. It’s where the cows are happy and the fields are lush, green, and there’s 120 different organic crops. The Scottish Highland cattle on the farm are a lean cut of meat and the quality is off the charts.
A long stretch of warm, dry weather last week helped Minnesota’s crops catch up on growing.