Finally, seed going into the ground

USDA report shows some progress on spring planting in the Upper Midwest.

Agweek-May-2019-spring planting.jpg
Agweek file photo

With roughly 500 acres of wheat planted, Ed Kessel is making progress. Ideally, the Dickinson, N.D., farmer would have more planted by this time, but he knows he's faring better than many Upper Midwest farmers.

"We're going, and that's good," Kessel said.

Though planting progress varies greatly across the area, meaningful amounts of seed, especially corn, went into the ground in the week ending April 26, according to the weekly crop progress released April 27 by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Cooperative weather helped. For example, Iowa had 5.3 days suitable for fieldwork and Montana had 5.5 suitable days in the week ending April 26. Those numbers were up from 2.9 days and 3.2 days, respectively, in the week ending April 26.

Much of the planting progress came in corn, which along with wheat and soybeans are the region's three major crops. Minnesota and Iowa, in particular, enjoyed planting success. Forty % of Minnesota's corn was planted on April 27, with 39 % of Iowa's corn in the ground.


Farmers in North Dakota and South Dakota, where an exceptionally wet fall and snowy winter has led to still-soggy fields, progress with corn has been limited. No North Dakota corn had been planted on April 27, with just 8 % of South Dakota's crop planted.

Area farmers all want relatively warm weather to spur planting, but moisture needs are mixed. In western North Dakota, where Kessel farms, occasional rain in coming weeks would be helpful. His area had little snow this winter and is relatively arid to start with, so more moisture — but not too much — would be welcome.

"We want to keep planting, but we'd take some more moisture," he said.

Planting progress of spring wheat, normally the first of the area's three major crops to be planted, has been slow. Though 38% of South Dakota's spring wheat is in the ground, just 11% of Montana spring wheat, 6% of Minnesota spring wheat and 5% of North Dakota spring wheat is planted.

Here's a look at what the weekly crop progress report had to say about other crops grown in the area:

Soybeans: 9% planted in Iowa, 5% in Montana, 1% in South Dakota and 0% in North Dakota. Soybeans generally are planted after corn.

Barley: 11% planted in Minnesota, 10% in Montana and 2% in North Dakota.

Oats: 80% planted in Iowa, 43% planted in Minnesota, 42% in South Dakota and 4% in North Dakota.


Sugar beets: 29% planted in Minnesota, 1% in North Dakota.

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