Spring planting moving ahead

A farmer plants corn on his farm near Worthington, Minn

A farmer plants corn on his farm near Worthington, Minn. on Thursday, May 5, 2011. MPR Photo/Mark Steil

Finding the best field conditions of the spring this week, Minnesota farmers are stepping up their planting activity.

Fields are finally drying out thanks to more sunny days, brisk winds and less rainfall.

In the Worthington area of southwest Minnesota, farmers have been in their fields every day this week starting on Monday. Rainfall Wednesday night slowed things a little, but by Thursday afternoon the soil had dried enough for tractors to resume their work.

Spot checks with University of Minnesota crop specialists shows that all parts of the state are seeing planting activity.

That includes the Red River Valley, where spring flooding put farmers far behind schedule. But some field work is underway there, especially in the southern part of the valley.

In the west central part of the state, some spring wheat has already emerged in the Benson area.

Ryan Miller, an educator for U of M’s Extension Service, said planting is also underway in southeast Minnesota, but farmers there are “just getting started” this week. Soil temperatures are a concern.

Farmers like to see the ground at 50 degrees or warmer when they plant. Near Rochester this week the soil temperature measured 46-degrees, Miler said.

It looks like farmers with dry fields will be able to plant at least until late Friday when the next chance of rain moves in.

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