Farmland in Minnesota is the wettest it has been at this point of spring in the last five years, and farmers worry planting may be delayed.
Then came more snow.
"It started here at 11 o'clock and we're at the 5-inch mark already," Brian Thalmann, a farmer near Plato, 50 miles west of Minneapolis, said Wednesday afternoon.
"It's going to further delay the start to spring planting," he said. "Wet snow is more challenging than just a spring rain. A spring rain will actually help to firm the ground and take out any remaining frost. Snow just prolongs the process."
Some 58 percent of Minnesota topsoil contained excess moisture as of Monday, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the highest rate in at least five years.
In 2018, when spring planting was delayed by wet fields, about 30 percent of the state's topsoil contained excess moisture. The previous three years were drier than that.
Farmers in Minnesota generally like to plant corn toward the end of April and soybeans right after that. But wet ground makes it difficult to maneuver farm equipment and keeps farmers out of the fields for fear of packing down the soil. The later they plant corn and soybeans, the lower yields tend to be at harvest.
"We're crunching the time period to be able to get out in the field," said Dave Nicolai, a crops educator for the University of Minnesota Extension. "If we really want to get things planted by the last week in April, first week in May, we've got to really hope that we get good weather here."
Weather complications are another unwelcome development for farmers already struggling with low corn and soybean prices. Bumper crops have kept prices down since 2013 and the trade war that opened last year with China, a major export destination, helped push them even lower.
Good weather, in general, means sunshine and a stiff breeze.
Swollen rivers to the south have already had an effect on farmers, clogging shipping lanes and driving down the prices offered to farmers for their grain in some places as grain handlers struggled to move commodities down the Mississippi River. Just like streets in Minneapolis and St. Paul, gravel roads in rural areas are in worse shape than usual and will need repairs.
"Just makes it miserable for everybody," Thalmann said. "Yards and roads. All the gravel township roads and so on get tracked up."
Thalmann said farmers thought the chances of another mid-April snowfall would be low after last year's blizzard dropped heavy amounts, including 15 inches on the Twin Cities. They were wrong.
He said many farmers believed they would be able to start field operations right after Easter, which is April 21. "But this'll delay that by a few more days," Thalmann said.
Snow and sleet are forecast for Thursday in Minnesota, with rain and snow on Friday. Between 15 and 20 inches of snow were expected in parts of southwestern Minnesota. There's another chance of rain on Tuesday.