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Published April 12, 2010, 08:51 PM

Area planting schedules take shape

Minnesota farmers are ahead of normal planting schedules, as dry weather last week mostly prevailed. A third of the oats already was planted by Sunday, compared with 3 percent last year and 3 percent on average by the same date from 2005-2009, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s weekly survey of county extension agents.

By: Stephen J. Lee, Grand Forks Herald

Minnesota farmers are ahead of normal planting schedules, as dry weather last week mostly prevailed. A third of the oats already was planted by Sunday, compared with 3 percent last year and 3 percent on average by the same date from 2005-2009, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s weekly survey of county extension agents.

Spring wheat was 10 percent seeded, up from 1 percent last year and zero in the five-year average. Barley plantings were at 13 percent, up from 1 percent on average.

Field work to get ready to plant corn and soybeans was slightly ahead of normal in Minnesota by the end of last week, too.

The great bulk of Minnesota’s field work so far has been in the central and southern parts of the state.

The only crop in North Dakota breaking into the statistical tables as planted by Sunday was sugar beets: 1 percent seeded, compared to zero last year and in the five-year average, by the same date. Usually by April 10, 1 or 2 percent of the small grains have been planted across the state, according to USDA. In many cases, the ground is still pretty cool to put seed in, and too wet in many cases, anyway.

There still is 12 percent of last year’s corn crop in North Dakota waiting to be harvested, but fields mostly are too wet for combines, farmers say.

The expected average start date for field work in North Dakota was pegged at April 18, a day ahead of last week’s forecast and well ahead of last year’s May 2 average start.

Of course, in the Red River Valley, last spring was very late because of the flooding, compared with the rest of the state. Many farmers in eastern North Dakota didn’t get into the field at all until the second week of May or later.

But already some fields have been dug, although Monday’s rain halted things.

The weather has been mostly cooperative this spring: at Grand Forks, the average temperature has been about 7 degrees above normal since March 1, according to the National Weather Service.

Reach Lee at (701) 780-1237; (800) 477-6572, ext. 237; or send e-mail to slee@gfherald.com.

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