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Paynesville Press - May 10, 2006

After fast start, spring planting lags after rain

By Addi Larson

Spring planting was ahead of schedule until the wet weather over the last weekend in April slowed the planting of corn.

Throughout Minnesota, corn planting is 56 percent complete. As of Monday, May 1, corn planting was 48 percent complete, which was higher than the five-year average. But only moderate plantings were done last week due to the wet fields. As of Monday, May 8, corn planting was six percentage points below the five-year average of 62 percent.

Tim Wegner, who grows corn and soybeans north of Paynesville with his father Curt, said good weather had been the main reason for an early planting season, and that they did appreciate the bulk of rain in late April. "It was getting pretty dry," Wegner said. We had the corn planted already, and it was okay."

They both said that they hoped for extended sunshine to warm up the soil to 55 degrees, from the current 50 degrees, in order to get the beans in. Wegner said their corn was in by Tuesday, April 25.

They planted one field of soybeans two days later, of which Curt remarked, "It worked out beautiful before the rain. If we get some 70 degree weather and some sunshine, it will be good again."

Dave Brinkman, who grows corn and soybeans southeast of Paynesville, said he already planted his last ten acres of corn on Monday and has 150 acres of beans left to plant. Brinkman said he was thankful for the early warmth this spring, enabling him to get his corn in before last week's rain. "We needed the rain," Brinkman said. "It was very much needed. We could use some sunshine to dry the rain."

The radar shows sunshine mixed with showers for the upcoming week and temperatures averaging 56 degrees, with highs averaging 65 degrees and lows averaging 47 degrees.

Dan Martens, a technical advisor with the University of Minnesota Extension Service, said that knowing the weather forecast five days in advance can help to prevent planting in the wet, cool conditions that may cause weak germination and seedling diseases such as pythium.

Soybean planting, throughout the state, has just started. Only six percent of soybeans in the state have been planted, which is ten percentage points behind the five-year average.

According to Dave Nicolai of the Hutchinson Extension Regional Office, since soybean seeds are rather delicate, it is beneficial to plant them into soils at temperatures of 60 degrees to 70 degrees and 1 1/2 inches deep into moderately firm soil covered by fairly loose soil. Nicolai also said that soil of this depth will usually have temperatures equal to the average daily air temperatures.

The real dirt on planting this season is that with rising fuel prices, the added expense of running machinery weighs heavily on budgets. According to Tim Wegner, cultivating money in a business rich in risk requires farmers to be pro-active. Wegner said that he contracted the diesel fuel used for planting earlier this spring before the prices went up; however, "We do a lot of trucking," he added. "I did not contract any of that, so that's going to be a bigger expense," he said of the diesel fuel for trucks used to haul.

Brinkman agreed that the low commodity prices coupled with high fuel prices are unfavorable, yet the weather has been promising. "We had a really good spring," Brinkman concluded.

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