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Helmut Schmidt, Published June 04 2013

Weather delays planting, slows growth

GLYNDON, Minn. – Last month’s cool, muddy weather has delayed planting and slowed crop growth in Minnesota and North Dakota, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports.

Even farmers who got their fields planted are waiting on the sun.

“The heat units are behind,” Ernie Oberg, the patriarch of Oberg Farms, said Tuesday. “We really haven’t had any sunshine to make any heat. It’s going to be July and August that’s going to tell the story now.”

Oberg and his sons finished their fieldwork in the Glyndon area 10 days ago, about two weeks later than usual, he said.

But their sugar beets, corn, wheat and soybeans have been slow to emerge, the 70-year-old said.

“It’s still not where it should be” for the fourth of June, he said.

Soil is saturated

Topsoil moisture is 98 percent adequate to surplus in Minnesota; 99 percent in North Dakota.

Subsoil moisture is 89 percent adequate to surplus in Minnesota; 94 percent in North Dakota.

Hans Kandel, an Extension agronomist at North Dakota State University, said the heavy rains of the last two weeks have put the brakes on planting because some fields are too wet.

In some areas that were already planted, crops are stressed or flooded out, he said.

While small grains “are looking pretty reasonable,” corn will need some heat “to be really happy,” Kandel said.

Farmers may have to switch from corn to soybeans, dry beans or sunflowers, Kandel said.

But even for soybeans, once planting slides into the second week of June, “it’s kind of pushing it, because we don’t know when the first frost will appear,” he said.

Here are the latest USDA crop estimates:


• Corn planting is 87 percent complete, compared to the 98 percent average. Emergence is 65 percent, far behind the 86 percent average.

• Soybeans are 55 percent planted, compared with an average of 88 percent. Soybeans are 18 percent emerged, 36 percentage points behind the average.

• Spring wheat is 92 percent planted, near the 97 percent average.

• Sugar beets are 95 percent planted, 3 percent behind the average.

• Potatoes are 87 percent planted, compared with the 96 percent average.

• Sunflowers are 56 percent planted, compared with a 79 percent average.

• Pasture conditions improved to 59 percent good to excellent.

North Dakota

• Corn was 84 percent planted, compared with a 93 percent average, emergence at 56 percent is 11 percent behind average.

• Spring wheat seeding was 64 percent complete, compared with an 89 percent average. Spring wheat was 42 percent emerged, with a 73 percent average.

• Durum wheat seeding was 54 percent complete, compared with a 78 percent average. It was 30 percent emerged, less than half the average.

• Barley is 58 percent planted, compared with an 87 percent average. It is 25 percent emerged, a third of the 70 percent average.

• Sugar beet planting is 92 percent complete, near the 97 percent average. Beets are 34 percent emerged, lagging the 73 percent average.

• Soybean planting is 51 percent complete, compared with the average at 75 percent. Soybeans emerged were at 12 percent, lagging the 38 percent average.

• Potato planting is 39 percent complete, just half the average. Potatoes emerged were at 5 percent, with the average at 31 percent.

• Dry edible bean planting is 22 percent complete, behind a 63 percent average.

• Sunflower planting is 20 percent complete, behind a 55 percent average.

• Pasture and range conditions 74 percent good to excellent.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583