Area crops catching up after late planting

MARSHALL – Though crops in parts of the state suffered from too much water, southwest Minnesota is doing well in spite of being the last area for the drought to lift and a late planting.

The hardest hit was southeast Minnesota.

“In the southeast part of the state, because of heavy rains, many farmers planted late or didn’t plant at all,” said Adam Czech, public relations manager for the Minnesota Corn Growers Association. “It varies by farms. It’s one of those strange years moisture-wise. One farmer in Rochester said last year he had 25 days to plant after Mother’s Day; this year he had two. But these days it’s easier to plant with technology and new varieties of seeds are pretty resistant.”

After early rains that delayed planting but recharged the soil moisture profile, hot weather has benefited corn and soybeans, but more rain will be needed later in the growing season for a good crop.

“It’s getting pretty dry, especially where there’s gravel underneath, it doesn’t have the water-holding capacity,” said Bruce Potter, integrated pest management specialist with the University of Minnesota Southwest Research and Outreach Center in Lamberton. “Some places where the soil was compacted during planting, the roots can’t go down where they normally would. You’ll see this at the ends of fields where the machines were turning.”

Still, growers expect a good year if perhaps not as good as last year.

“Last year, Minnesota was one of the few states in the Corn Belt that did well,” Czech said.

As always, it depends on timely rains and the first frost not coming too early.

“We’re a little behind but considering how late the crop went in, not bad,” Potter said. “Beans should be fine before the frost. Some corn fields may struggle to reach maturity, but any corn that has tasseled by now or in the near future should be OK.”