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Corn Planting Progress

Written by: Kent Thiesse

If you ask someone: “How much corn is planted, or how much Spring fieldwork has occurred in your area ?”, the response is likely to be quite different, depending on where the person resides. A major snowfall event in early May, followed by frequent rainfall events throughout most of May, in the eastern half of Southern Minnesota, as well as adjoining areas of Northern Iowa, has caused significant delays in corn planting. Most of this region has received additional rainfall amounts of 1-2 inches over this past weekend, with substantially more rainfall in some areas, on soils that were already saturated. As a result, less than half of the intended corn acres in this region have been planted as of May 20, with very few soybeans being planted.


Western portions of South Central Minnesota and most of Southwest Minnesota were able to make some excellent planting progress during the week of May 12-18. It is estimated that about 80-90 percent of the anticipated corn in this region has been planted as of May 20. Soybean planting is 40-50 percent completed at many locations in this portion of Southern Minnesota. Planting conditions in other sections of Minnesota have also been quite variable due to weather conditions and soil moisture.


The best recent news for Spring planting has been a rapid warm-up in soil temperatures since May 7, which has helped alleviate many of the soil temperature concerns that existed in early May. Prior to May 7, the soil temperatures in most areas at the 2-4 inch planting depth had remained below 50 degrees F, which is considered the minimal desirable temperature for good corn planting conditions. At the University of Minnesota Research Center at Waseca the 24-hour average soil temperature at the 2 inch level was only 39 degrees F on May 5, before rebounding to 58 degrees on May 7. Since that time, average soil temperatures have remained in the mid to upper 50’s, or higher.


In the very wet areas, the soil temperature should be very favorable for good planting conditions, once the fields dry out adequately for corn and soybean planting. In areas where corn planting is completed, the soil temperatures have also been quite conducive for soybean planting. The warmer soil temperatures, along with adequate top soil moisture, have provided some good conditions for rapid seed germination and early growth of the newly planted corn. Research shows that 50 percent corn emergence will occur in 20 days at an average soil temperature of 50 degrees Fahrenheit, which is reduced to only 10 days at an average temperature of 60 degrees F. Most corn that was planted in the first week of May in the drier portions of Southern Minnesota has now emerged and looks very good.


Most growers will likely stick with planting full-season corn hybrids for at least another week to ten days, probably until the end of May, and will then move to earlier corn hybrids, before switching major acreage to soybeans. Research from 2009-2011 at the U of M Research Centers at Waseca, Lamberton and Morris showed that corn planted on May 25 averaged 93 percent of the yield of corn that was planted from April 25 to May 10. The average yield dropped to 89 percent of maximum for corn planted on May 30, and yield potential begins to decline quite rapidly for corn planted after June 1.


The “planting window” for soybeans is significantly wider than it is for corn. In Southern Minnesota, full-season varieties of soybeans can be planted until late May or early June, with only minimal reductions in yield potential. Weather conditions in the next ten days to two weeks will determine how serious the planting delays in the eastern half of Southern Minnesota and Northern Iowa become. This could have a major economic impact of farm operators in that region, especially if crop prices are reduced later in the growing season due to favorable growing conditions in other areas of the U.S.


Winter injury to alfalfa is a major concern in the Upper Midwest this year. The frequent cold temperatures, ice storms, and late snowfall in the Spring of 2013 has resulted in moderate to severe damage to many existing alfalfa fields across the region. This is certainly bad news to livestock producers who are already dealing with hay shortages and high hay prices as a result of the 2012 Drought. Producers with Winter injury to alfalfa are encouraged to contact their crop consultant or University Extension agronomist for assistance. The University of Minnesota has a web site to assist with alfalfa winter injury issues at :



The Final Planting Date for corn in most of Minnesota, as well as in all of Iowa, and Wisconsin is May 31, in order to receive full crop insurance coverage for 2013. The Late Planting Period for corn is June 1-25, with a reduction in the insurance coverage level of one percent for each day that corn planting is delayed past May 31. In Northern Minnesota, the final date for corn planting with full insurance coverage is May 25. For soybeans, the Final Planting Date is June 10 in Minnesota and the northern two-thirds of Wisconsin, and June 15 in Iowa and the southern one-third of Wisconsin, with the Final Planting Date extending for 25 days until July 5 in Minnesota and Northern Wisconsin, and until July 10 in Iowa and Southern Wisconsin. For crops planted after the final dates for the Late Planting Period, crop insurance coverage is set at a maximum of 60 percent of the original insurance guarantee, which is the same as the prevented planting insurance coverage.


It is important to pay close attention to the Final Planting Dates and the Late Planting Period when making late planting or prevented planting crop insurance decisions. Producers should contact their crop insurance agent for more details on final planting dates and prevented planting options with various crop insurance policies. There are also some good fact sheets available on the USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) web site at :



Note --- For additional information contact Kent Thiesse, Farm Management Analyst and

              Vice President, MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal, MN. (Phone --- (507) 381-7960) ; 

              E-mail ---  Web Site ---