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Record snowfall, wet spring delay farmers

NEAR ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – The record snowfall this past winter and a wet start to spring are leaving many farmers unable to get into their fields.

Standing water and mud are common sights over the past few weeks as farmers begin to fall behind. While they are starting to get a littler nervous in terms of field work, they are nowhere near panic mode. Still, the clock is ticking.

A goal for most farmers in our area is to start prepping their fields for planting about the middle of April.

“The ultimate goal is to get our corn in the ground by May 15th, so we still have a couple of weeks,” said Lisa Behnken, University of Minnesota Extension Educator in Crops. “Then of course soybeans would follow at any time, they could be planted all the way into the early part of June.”

But before farmers can plant, there’s a lot of work to do, especially this year.

“We’ve got fertilizer to apply, manure to spread, fields to work,” said Behnken. “If you remember last fall, there was a lot of field work that did not happen, it froze up very soon. So we are behind the eight ball, in a sense right now.”

According to the most recent progress report from the United States Department of Agriculture, only two days in the past week were suitable for field work.

“I know of a few farmers who have planted some corn,” said Behnken. “We’ve got some small grains planted, its just so little and so few acres.” But a delay in planting corn isn’t the only concern.

“We do have other crops that need to go in,” said Behnken. “We have canning crops in the area that usually are planted by now, whether it’s peas or sweet corns, those need to go in early. We have alfalfa growing, that folks need to make hay. We’re typically making hay by the end of May.”

If current trends continue, farmers are worried what happened in 2013 might happen again.

“We had many acres that were prevented planting,” said Behnken. “We stayed very wet, very long. Some keep paralleling this year with 2013, where it stayed wet well into June.”

Behnken says farmers are about in the same position as they were last year — and that’s being slightly behind schedule.
She says all we need is about two good weeks of relatively dry and sunny conditions for farmers to get back on track.

Sarah Gannon

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