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Crops Progress Rapidly

Written by: Kent Thiesse

Overall, crop conditions across most of the Southern two-thirds of Minnesota have improved considerably in the past couple of weeks. In late May, many areas of Southwest, South Central, and Central Minnesota were impacted by excessive rainfall, severe storms, and some crop emergence problems; however, much of the crop has now recovered. There were some locations that had severe storms again in the past week with strong winds, hail, and heavy rainfalls, with portions of Southeastern Minnesota being impacted most significantly.


Most of the region has now received adequate rainfall during the months of May and June to recharge stored soil moisture to more normal levels. As we headed into the Spring of 2012, there was a great deal of concern due to stored soil moisture levels that were at very low levels, following a dry Fall in 2011 and a fairly dry early Spring in 2012. There are a few isolated areas that have received less rainfall in 2012, and are still a bit on the dry side. The ample rainfall in the past month and the improved levels of stored soil moisture will likely be very beneficial later in the growing season.


As of June 1, stored soil moisture levels at the University of Minnesota Research Center at Waseca were at 10.21 inches in the top five feet of soil, which is at 92 percent of capacity for stored soil moisture. At the Southwest Minnesota U of M Research Center at Lamberton the measured stored soil moisture was at 5.56 inches, which is at about 63 percent of capacity, which is a big improvement over the 3.09 inches of stored soil moisture on April 1. Lamberton has recorded 10.79 inches of rainfall since May 1, which is more than double the normal rainfall. However, many of those rainfall events were very intense, with considerable runoff, which limited the impacts on the stored soil moisture.


The combination of ample soil moisture, along with normal to above normal temperatures is providing almost ideal growing conditions for corn and soybeans in mid-June. The growth pattern of both corn and soybeans are progressing at a rapid pace, and the crops look good to excellent in many areas, except those localities that were impacted by the severe storms. One problem with the frequent rainfall events in the past few weeks has been timely weed control for corn and soybeans. Most growers rely heavily on post-emergence herbicide applications for primary weed control, which are applied after both the crop and weeds are emerged. The numerous rainfalls, combined with several windy days, have greatly limited the ability of farm operators to make timely herbicide applications.


Many livestock producers have begun the second cutting of alfalfa in the past week, in order to gain the highest feed quality, while other hay producers are fighting wet field conditions and still trying to finish up their first cutting. The harvest of canning peas is also getting underway across southern Minnesota. A somewhat dryer weather pattern in the next couple of weeks would be helpful for both the hay and pea harvest, as well as for general crop growth across most of the region.