Food Market brings news, talk and insight into the food business, from farms to supermarkets to restaurants. Reporters Mike Hughlett and Tom Meersman delve into the work of Minnesota’s food companies and issues such as food safety and labeling.

Corn planting off to a slow start

Posted by: Tom Meersman Updated: May 6, 2014 - 10:27 AM

Corn planting is about two weeks behind normal this year because of cool and wet conditions, according to the latest USDA report about Minnesota crop progress. In the week ending May 4, USDA reported that 8 percent of the corn crop had been planted, compared to the five-year average of 46 percent by this date.

Southwestern Minnesota was the only area of the state where farmers are making progress, the report said.

The delay will apparently not affect yields if weather conditions improve and farmers can get corn planted by mid-May, said Jeff Coulter, a corn agronomist with the University of Minnesota Extension.  Coulter said that average grain yield was within 98 percent of the maximum if planting was completed by May 15, according to a study from 2009 to 2011 at Lamberton, Morris and Waseca. And even if farmers have been able to plant already, Coulter said, the corn emergence dates are not likely to differ greatly between April 21 and May 5 planting dates this year "given the limited growing degree days that have accumulated since April 21."

The cool and wet weather since the middle of last week has created "less than ideal conditions for germination and emergence," he said.

Planting of other crops has also been delayed, especially in northern Minnesota. Only 2 percent of sugarbeets have been planted, compared to the five-year average of 46 percent, and 4 percent of spring wheat has been planted, compared to the five-year average of 45 percent by this date.

Soil moisture is high nearly everywhere in the state because of widespread rain in April. The latest report indicates that topsoil moisture is 62 percent adequate and 37 percent surplus, and subsoil moisture is 72 percent adequate and 18 percent surplus.

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