Planting is underway in southern Minnesota.

According to Liz Stahl, Extension educator of crops at the University of Minnesota, farmers in the southwest region of the state have started their planting efforts.

"There's been a bit of (planting) activity, and it's been over a range of dates here, because the weather has been interesting," Stahl said on April 26. "Progress has been made."

According to the latest weekly crop progress report released by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 3% of Minnesota's corn had been planted and 2% of soybeans had been planted.

Stahl said it's been dry, with the majority of the state still experiencing drought-like conditions.

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"Most of Minnesota has been either abnormally dry, and we had some spots under what would be considered moderate drought and even little pockets where we're getting into that severe drought," Stahl said.

She said that dryness can be good when it comes to planting, but moisture will be necessary once crops are in the ground.

"On one hand, that helps for setting up to get out in the field planting," she said. "If I could order it up, we'd get everything in the ground and then get the moisture."

Stahl said the current conditions, plus some moisture, are lining things up to make it a pretty good season for farmers.

"So far, knock on wood, it's been setting out to be a decent year," Stahl said. "With stuff planted already."

Stahl said we're just now hitting the prime corn planting window for farmers, which is around April 25 to May 10-12.

"Give or take, you're typically within about 1% of the optimal yield," she said of corn crops planted in that window.

Usually planting corn earlier than that window doesn't offer much benefit, said Stahl.

"I know people were kind of chomping at the bit to get (corn) in early when we had decent conditions, and it did warm up in some spots too," she said. "But then, of course, things turned around and got very cold. And that's the thing — we're in Minnesota, so things can change really fast."

Stahl said the optimal window for planting soybeans starts on May 1.

"That's really where we expect to get about 100% yield potential, typically, and then it goes down after that," she said

Yield potential doesn't drop very fast after that, said Stahl, but the later in the season it gets, the more dramatic the yield decrease.

"The thing with soybeans is that you can still plant them in July," she said.

Overall, Stahl feels good about this season for farmers.

"I'm optimistic we'll set up for a good year here, and prices have looked good as well," Stahl said. "So if we can get stuff planted timely and in good conditions, can get nice yields with decent prices, that would be a really nice combination."