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Published May 05, 2014, 10:05 AM

A couple ‘big weeks’ needed for planting

LAKE PRESTON, S.D. — Mike Tolzin was just getting started planting corn for the first time this year April 25, getting used to his new planter.

By: Mikkel Pates, Agweek

LAKE PRESTON, S.D. — Mike Tolzin was just getting started planting corn for the first time this year April 25, getting used to his new planter.

“This is about normal,” Tolzin says of the timing. He cut back on a few corn acres and replaced them with soybeans because of better price prospects and reduced input costs. “I’ve got a new planter. I want to make sure that when I do get in a hurry, I’ll be able to go.”

Tolzin told Agweek he’d only recently gotten a quarter-inch of rain, and was expecting rain through the weekend. The new planter is set for 30-inch corn rows and 15-inch soybean rows, which he prefers, so the bean canopy closes earlier.

Without significant delays, Tolzin says he can get all of his corn planted in a “big week” of work, and then all the soybeans in “another big week after that.” But he later confirmed that the farm had gotten an inch of rain on April 28 and 29, so there would be more waiting. Tolzin says the local co-op had been able to spread enough fertilizer for his fieldwork needs, but he is concerned about a constant supply.

Farther west, Al Meier of Wessington Springs, S.D., says the wheat crop is looking like it has good potential. He and his son, Kylan, and son-in-law Mike Polanchek work together on a seed operation and raise commercial wheat in the Hayes, S.D., area.

“I think we’re in pretty good shape,” Meier says. “We’ve had some wind erosion, but we had 1.5 inches of moisture in the last couple of days, so I think the prospects are excellent for the wheat crop. We had no wheat last year in western South Dakota because of the drought, so we’re looking good this year.”

Things were a bit slower in eastern North Dakota.

Rick Prochnow, who farms with his father and brother near Hankinson in Richland County, says the farm hadn’t turned a wheel as of April 29, but he thinks there’s still time to get the corn in. He says with the recent 4 inches of rain April 27 and 28, the Prochnows’ field work might not commence until about May 8. The Prochnows note that April 25 warm temperatures and frost coming out of the ground led to an unusual display of ground fog. “Every year is different,” Rick says.

Here is a look across the entire Agweek region, through the lens of the April 28 National Agricultural Statistics Service:

• South Dakota — Above-normal temperatures and scattered rain allowed 5.7 days of fieldwork and made it possible for farmers to get more fertilizer spread, as well as corn and spring wheat planting started. Topsoil moisture is 71 percent adequate or surplus, and subsoil moisture is 78 percent adequate or better.

Planting percentage completion versus the five-year average spring wheat: 42 percent planted, 46 percent average; oats: 60 percent planted, 46 percent average; corn: 11 percent planted, 10 percent average; barley: 19 percent planted, 33 percent average. Winter wheat condition is only 4 percent poor, 31 percent fair, 63 percent good and 2 percent excellent.

Cattle and calf conditions are 83 percent good to excellent. Calving is 75 percent complete and death losses are rated 12 percent below normal and 86 percent normal, with only 2 percent reporting above-normal deaths. Sheep conditions are 83 percent good to excellent, with lambing 84 percent complete and shearing 86 percent complete. Sheep and lamb deaths are only 1 percent above normal.

• North Dakota — Wet, cool conditions kept fieldwork to 2.3 days for the week. Topsoil moisture is 78 percent adequate and 20 percent surplus. Subsoil moistures are 97 percent adequate or surplus.

Winter wheat condition is rated only 16 percent poor or worse, 38 percent fair and 46 percent good to excellent. Crop planting percentages compared with the five-year average for this date durum: 1 percent planted, 9 percent average; spring wheat: 3 percent planted, 19 percent average; barley: 2 percent planted, 15 percent average; oats: 3 percent planted, 14 percent average; dry edible beans: 2 percent planted, 13 percent average; sugar beets: 5 percent planted, 34 percent average.

Cattle and calves were rated 86 percent good to excellent, with 98 percent reporting death losses normal or better. Sheep and lambs were rated 81 percent good to excellent. Lambing is 80 percent complete, sheering 75 percent completed, and death losses 97 percent normal or better.

Stock water supplies are rated 99 percent adequate to surplus, and hay and forage supplies are 93 percent adequate or surplus.

• Minnesota — Wet conditions kept Minnesota at 1.7 suitable field days in the previous week. Topsoil moisture supplies are only 2 percent short and subsoil is 18 percent short or short of moisture.

Crop planting percentage planted compared with the five-year average corn: 4 percent, 30 percent average; spring wheat: 2 percent, 39 percent average; barley: 2 percent, 35 percent average; sugar beets: 2 percent, 37 percent average.

Pasture conditions are 11 percent poor or worse, 48 percent fair and 41 percent good to excellent. Some northwest Minnesota farmers are concerned about adequate feedstocks until grass is available for grazing. Grazing conditions are 60 percent open, compared with the five-year average of 79 percent.

• Montana — With 4.2 days suitable for field work, seeding progress as of April 28 was generally behind schedule. Percentages for specific crops: barley: 26 percent planted, 38 percent average; corn: 1 percent planted, 8 percent average; dry peas: 16 percent planted, 31 percent average; lentils: 8 percent planted, 23 percent average; oats: 3 percent planted, 22 percent average; durum: 1 percent planted, 15 percent average; spring wheat: 19 percent planted, 29 percent average; sugar beets: 44 percent planted, 35 percent average. Winter wheat is ranked 64 percent good to excellent, compared with a 61 percent average for the date.

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