WILLMAR – Farmers eager to get in the fields and homeowners who have yard work to do might want to take advantage of nice weather that's expected this week.
The forecast call for dry and fairly warm conditions, which is in stark contrast to the weekend snow and numerous weeks of wet, cool and cloudy weather much of Minnesota has experienced this fall.
The latest forecast from the National Weather Service indicates there’s a minimal chance for precipitation this week and temperatures could hit a balmy 62 degrees by the weekend, said Eric Ahasic, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Chanhassen.
According to Ahasic, conditions will continue to be “a little gloomy” and cool for the beginning of this week with temperatures in the mid-40s. But he said sunshine is predicted for Thursday, Friday and Saturday with temperatures in the high 50s and low 60s.
“We’ll see how much drying we can get done here this week,” Ahasic said.
Usually in mid-October soybean harvest is well underway and corn harvest is around the corner.
That’s not happening this year. Harvest 2-3 weeks behind the average for west central Minnesota, according the state’s USDA crop report. Corn maturity is behind schedule, muddy fields have made it difficult to get sugarbeets out and corn silage — which is usually completed in September — is delayed.
The wet, sloppy snow this last weekend added insult to injury to farmers who have been struggling with excessive moisture and cold temperatures since the spring planting season.
While several inches of snow fell in parts of west central Minnesota over the weekend it’s not nearly as devastating as the nearly two-feet of snow that fell on un-harvested crops in parts of northwestern Minnesota and areas of North Dakota.
The absence of rain for at least a week and some warmth and sunshine will help dry the mud in the fields that could help speed up harvest and reduce the moisture content in corn and soybeans.
If crops are harvested with too high a moisture content farmers are forced to spend money to dry them, making it even more challenging to manage low commodity prices and high input costs.
But the dry weather could be short-lived.
Although it’s difficult to make accurate forecasts too far out, Ahasic said it looks like there will be a “pretty powerful storm system somewhere in the upper midwest” that could strike sometime Sunday through Tuesday of next week.
He couldn’t say if the precipitation would be in the form of snow or rain but indicated it appears more moisture is coming.
“There’s at least another shot for some more rain here,” he said. “It’s just the way the whole year has been.”