Minnesota crop farmers are off to a good start for the second consecutive year, thanks largely to recent warm and dry weather.
Eighty-nine percent of Minnesota’s corn crop has been planted, 40 percent of it in the last week, according to the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture crop progress report.
Officials said Minnesota had “near optimal conditions for fieldwork” during the week ending May 8.
Having that much corn planted is 17 days ahead of the five-year average, and two days behind last year. when producers enjoyed record corn and soybean harvests and yields.
Forty-six percent of the 2016 soybean crop has also been planted, the report estimated, 12 days ahead of average and three days behind last year.
Jeff Coulter, corn specialist at University of Minnesota Extension, said that the window for planting can vary quite a bit from year to year depending on weather, but farmers jump at the chance to plant crops when conditions are right.
“Years when we can get a lot of the corn acres in by early to mid-May, tend to be years when we have higher yields,” Coulter said. “We’re on track for a good year and I’m optimistic at this point.”
Coulter said an early spring gives growers a head start because it gives them an edge with a slightly longer growing season. But that advantage is not as important as timely rains later in the season, he said, especially during the hottest weeks of summer.
Other estimates from the report: Spring wheat planting is nearly finished with eighty-seven percent planted, 17 days ahead of average, and nearly half of it has emerged. Nearly all of the oat crop has been planted, and seventy-one percent of it has emerged, more than two weeks ahead of the average.
Other crops that are one to two weeks ahead of average are barley, dry edible beans, sunflowers and potatoes. Sugar beet planting is typically only half finished by this date, but by the end of last week 99 percent of that crop was in the ground.