La Nina affected cool, wet spring; points to hot, dry summer

Planting delayed by cool, wet weather has some farmers wondering how late is too late to plant corn.

Flooded fields near Oslo, Minnesota.
Ryan Longnecker / WDAY News

The La Nina weather pattern that was an influence on the cool, wet spring in the upper Midwest may mean hotter and drier conditions as the growing season progresses, a U.S. Department of Agriculture meteorologist says.

“Our problem has been that we’ve had very cold temperatures and seemingly quite a bit of cloudiness that has kept our soils from drying out,” Dennis Todey, director of the Midwest Climate Hub in Ames, Iowa, said Wednesday, May 11, during the "Field Notes" web program hosted by the University of Minnesota.

Todey said there has been plenty of wind, but not enough sun and warmth to allow timely fieldwork. That has led to corn planting for 2022 in Minnesota as being the second slowest pace in since 2000, with 2013 as the slowest year as of early May.

Looking ahead to summer, Todey said La Nina will likely translate into hot, dry conditions.

“Warm and drier is at increased risk this year,” Todey said.


Todey made his comments as the forecast called for a dramatic change in the weather, with temps expecting to top 90 degrees with chances for severe weather.

When is too late for corn?

Delayed planting has farmers wondering how late is too late to plant corn.

While in the past, May 10 was often regarded as the planting date after which corn yields may start to dip, Jeff Coulter, University of Minnesota corn agronomist, said more recent research points to May 12 as the key date in Minnesota.

Corn planted from May 13 to May 19 still can achieve 97% to 98% of maximum yield, “still not bad,” Coulter said. On May 20, yield drops to 94% to 96% of maximum yield.

He said if farmers don’t expect to plant until the week of May 22-28, they should start thinking about switching to a variety with earlier maturity.

Reach Agweek reporter Jeff Beach at or call 701-451-5651.
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