Recent rain improves drought, delays planting

SOUTHWEST MINNESOTA – According to a map updated Thursday from the U.S. Drought Monitor, most of southwest Minnesota is still in a moderate drought, with a few areas experiencing, at least, abnormally dry conditions. But improvement is expected with continued rain forecasted for next week.

Last week, southwest Minnesota saw up to an inch and a half of rain with the constantly cloudy conditions it experienced. Temperatures reached a high of 77 degrees in Marshall before dropping into the 30s later in the week.

University of Minnesota Climatologist Mark Seeley said that there is hope in sight for ending the drought.

“The climate prediction center sees further elevation of that (drought) with more frequent chance of shower activity this next week,” Seeley said.

Seeley reported that soil temperatures are up to around 40 and 50 degrees in most of the area, so farmers don’t necessarily need to wait for warmer weather, they just need a chance for everything to dry up a bit.

“Despite the cooler-than-normal temperatures, there will probably be enough dryness to get some planting done next week. Even if it is between showers,” Seeley added.

Scott Dubbelde from the Farmers Cooperative Elevator in Hanley Falls said that the rain is nice, but we need some dry days for planting soon.

“It’s nice to be able to plant in April,” Dubbelde said. “Last year we planted in May, and it went pretty good.”

Dubbelde also said that there was talk of a potential fertilizer shortage but with the delayed planting, suppliers might get more time to put out product and spread out the demand.

“It’d be nice if we got some warm weather and a chance to put the crop in,” Dubbelde said.

Northwest of Walnut Grove, Bruce Johnson welcomed the rain but is ready to get back into the field.

“We have about 70 acres of corn planted,” Johnson said. “But that’s only a 10th of what we need to do.”

A few of his neighbors haven’t been able to plant anything yet this spring. Everyone has been cautious with the cool temperatures.

“The calendar says ‘go,’ but the conditions are not quite there yet,” Johnson said.

Drought conditions are still moderate in his area, Johnson reported. The rain last week helped, but more will be needed.

“This is a start,” Johnson said. “The rain is hugely welcome, but it will only get the crop the going. It’s still very dry.”

Tyler Anderson, who farms in northern Murray County, has had his planting delayed by the wet weather but also appreciates the rain. Murray County is currently in moderate drought conditions, but the precipitation is slowly helping.

“The rain helps,” Anderson said. “We’re not quite there yet, but we’ll take whatever we can get.”

“It will probably be a couple of days before we can get back in the field,” Anderson said. He reported that some farmers in his area are off to a good start on their corn, but no one has been able to start beans yet this season.

“I’m hoping to get back in the field Sunday afternoon,” Anderson said. “It’s a later planting season this year but not too late. If it were June, it would be a different story.”