Minnesota farmers are waiting for the weather to break to get their corn planted this year.
Last week's crop progress report from the USDA indicated that some corn planting has begun in southwestern Minnesota, along with some oats, spring wheat and barley planting. But most crops in most parts of the state are on hold, according to the report, and most field activities have been limited to manure hauling, fertilizer application and rock picking.
An updated crop report is expected this afternoon, and we'll update with the latest information when it's available.
The danger of planting too early is that corn seed will remain dormant in the soil at temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and will become vulnerable to diseases and insects. And even if corn is planted at 50 degrees, it may not germinate properly unless temperatures warm in succeeding days.
One farmer I talked with last Friday said "it's not late yet" for corn planting, but added he's impatient to get started on this year's crop. Some of his neighbors in southwest Minnesota have already planted a few fields, but most are still waiting, he said.
The good news is that there's plenty of moisture in Minnesota topsoil and subsoil, unlike California and other parts of the country that are experiencing drought. Topsoil moisture as of April 20 was 73 percent adequate and 23 percent surplus, according to the report, and it's sure to have increased since then in most places.