Central tier finishes corn planting well ahead of average

Written by Jonathan Eisenthal

Across the central tier of Minnesota, farmers  have mostly completed their corn planting and are looking ahead to planting soybeans in the next few weeks.

“Most people in our area wrapped up their corn in the last couple of days,” said Doug Albin, a farmer in Yellow Medicine County, along with western border of the state in the central tier. Albin serves as chairman of Minnesota Corn Growers Association.  “We finished today with our planting (last Thursday) and we just have a little bit of custom (corn) planting for some other folks to finish.”

As of Sunday, April 25, observers for National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA) estimated that 63 percent of Minnesota corn acres had been planted, and one percent had emerged. Farmers in Minnesota got an early start last year, but not this early—in 2009 they had about a third of the planting done as they went into the final week of April. The five year average—including both these jack rabbit starts, is only 16 percent planted by April 25, confirming what many farmers have said—for most, they only just be getting started now.

Numerous studies correlate earlier planting dates with higher plant populations per acre and higher yields per acre.

“We finished last Monday (the 19th), a good ten days ahead of average,” said Nathan Johnson, a farmer near Lowry, Minnesota in Pope County. Johnson is a former president of Minnesota Corn Growers Association and a current member of the Minnesota Corn Research & Promotion Council. “I would say our county is about 85 to 90 percent done with corn planting. People are waiting to get going on soybeans, so it’s real quiet—we’ll probably start up next week.”

The latest NASS report shows that about two-thirds of the state has adequate topsoil moisture while about a third is dry. Moisture conditions are variable across the central tier, with the worst rainfall deficit occurring in the upper Minnesota River Valley.

In Stearns County, many corn producers finished planting the week of April 19, reported John Mages, who farms near Belgrade. Mages serves as treasurer of Minnesota Corn Growers Association.

“We’re probably about two weeks ahead,” Mages noted. “We just started with a few beans, then we got some rain.  We got done planting corn before we would normally start in most years. We’re probably a little dry in the topsoil, but the subsoil is in good shape. A half-inch or an inch of rain—nobody would mind that at all.”

Maps from the University of Minnesota Climatology Working Group show the current precipitation and soil moisture levels:

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