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Covering the business of food and farming with Mike Hughlett

Corn, soybeans, other crops off to an early start

Ideal weather conditions across Minnesota last week allowed farmers to continue planting corn, soybeans and other crops well ahead of average.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported Monday that Minnesota’s corn planting jumped to 83 percent complete, the second highest amount planted by this date in 30 years.  Nearly one-third of the soybean acreage has been planted, the most by this date in three decades.

And all small grains were over 90 percent planted.

Unlike last year, when planting was delayed longer than usual by a late winter and heavy spring rains, the 2015 growing season is beginning three to four weeks earlier in much of the state.

By this date in 2014 only 7 percent of the corn and 0 percent of the soybeans had been planted.

USDA surveys growers across the nation each week to estimate crop progress and conditions.

Minnesota farmers were reportedly concerned about dry soil conditions in some areas, and the need for more rain to help crop germination and plant growth.

The report also indicated that 54 percent of the spring wheat crop has emerged, and sugar beet planting in the state is virtually complete, the earliest time this has happened in three decades.

General Mills will pump $250 million into Tennessee plant

General Mills will invest $250 million to increase capacity at a Tennessee plant that makes yogurt and toaster pastries.

It’s a welcome change from General Mills’ factory-related announcements of late, which have often involved plant closings.

General Mill’s investment in its Murfreesboro, Tenn., plant, announced Tuesday, will add two product lines and create 117 new jobs.

The plant currently employs about 900 workers and produces Yoplait and General Mills Toaster Strudel, according to the Murfreesboro Daily News.

As part of a restructuring brought on by lean times in the packaged food industry, General Mills since last fall has announced plant closures in Massachusetts, California, Indiana and Ontario, Canada.