Growers in the southern tier to finish planting earlier than expected

Written by Jonathan Eisenthal

Growers across the southern tier of Minnesota have finished planting corn or anticipate being done within the week—in a more typical year many would just be starting to plant the third week in April.

“This is the second year in row that it’s been early,” said corn producer Jerry Demmer, a member of the Minnesota Corn Promotion Council who farms in Clarks Grove, about 90 miles directly south of the Twin Cities. “In a typical year, if you can get in and get started by the 25th it’s fantastic—this year a lot of people will be done by the 25th.”

Further to the east, Lori Feltis reported that she and her husband, Clifton were finishing corn planting Monday (April 19) on their farm near Stewartville in Olmsted County. Their seed dealership business gives them a good idea when most of the planting in the vicinity is taking place.

“We have folks in the neighborhood who have 2,500 acres in the ground—it’s been great planting conditions,” said Feltis, who is secretary of Minnesota Corn Research and Promotion Council. “We’re expecting to see the corn poking out by Friday (the 22nd), for sure.  It’s been dry, almost too dry—we could use a shot of rain. In a typical year we’d be starting on the 20th and hope to have all the corn in by May 1.“

Feltis noted that they waited until April 12 to plant, to assure full crop insurance coverage. Some in the neighborhood didn’t wait, because of the ideal planting conditions, she said. Soil temperatures measured 48 degrees Fahrenheit on the 12th and everything has germinated. On Monday they got readings of 56 degrees at two inches—where the seed sits, and 52 degrees at four inches, showing that the tap root can begin to grow down already. Activity takes place above 50 degrees.

Heading west across the southern tier, in Redwood County, DeVonna Zeug reported being two-thirds finished with corn planting early last week, with excellent conditions to get things finished quickly. Zeug, who is president of Minnesota Corn Growers Association, was able to break away to speak at the University of Minnesota Ag Awareness Day last Tuesday, because things were so well in hand on their farm in Walnut Grove.

Also in the western part of the southern tier, Myron “Mickey” Peterson, who farms in Sacred Heart, Renville County, reported he would be finished planting corn Tuesday morning, April 20. Peterson is chairman of Minnesota Corn Research & Promotion Council Perhaps he would have been finished Monday afternoon, except he and his wife Janice decided to take a break to go and visit their grandchild, born on Monday.

“We were going to finish two weeks ago, but we had to wait because of all the wind, so we didn’t want to do fertilizer,” said Peterson. “We’ve had beautiful planting conditions, but we’d like to get half an inch of rain shortly. In western Renville, I’d say we’re about 80 percent done planting corn. Now, we’ve got some 1/8-inch sprouts on what we planted two weeks ago—shows it was warm enough. A year ago we started on the 16th—it was dry last year too. This year, we started on the 12th, and it was the earliest we’ve ever started.”

In Lincoln County, by the South Dakota border, Tim Dritz reported getting started April 16, and was about halfway through about four days into planting his corn. Dritz is vice president of Minnesota Corn Growers Association.

“This is a week or two earlier than normal for corn planting here,” said Dritz.   “Things are drying out nicely and starting to look good. Everyone’s gotten a good start. Just a few more days and everyone should be done.”

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