Spring field work gets rolling
SUNBURG -- If he was a betting man, George Dunn would have laid money last week that fields would be too wet this week for tilling and planting. He would've lost his wager.
Dunn, a retired manager for Harvest Land Cooperative, was in the field Thursday running a digger for his son, Troy, who was planting corn in an adjoining field.
"A week ago, I didn't think we'd be doing this," said George Dunn as he got off the tractor to check a digger shovel.
Until late this week, most of the field work had been restricted to the south central and southeast parts of Minnesota, according to the Minnesota Crop-Weather Report that was released Monday.
A rainy fall, plenty of snow this winter and a cool, wet spring have kept many fields wet in west central Minnesota. Recent warm temperatures, and Thursday's wind, made it possible for some producers in the region to start tilling and planting corn.
The soil conditions are "just perfect right now," Dunn said. "We could actually use some rain."
Soil conditions vary greatly from region to region and even from field to field in terms of moisture, soil temperature and even frost.
Producers are being "very selective" of which fields are being worked now, said Wes Nelson, executive director of the Farm Service Agency in Kandiyohi County.
Fields with heavier soils may be too wet and cold. Some fields that are dry on the top couple inches may still have frost deeper down, he said. Farmers need to be careful not to get into fields too early and pack the seed bed.
"We don't want to rush it," Nelson said. "We're not at all late by any means."
Typically, the last week of April and the first week of May are the biggest corn planting times in Minnesota. "We're about a week ahead of what is considered ideal," he said.
With a winter that was long and cold, it's not hard to understand why farmers are eager to get in the fields. "We really appreciate the spring weather more this year," Nelson said.