Spring planting far ahead of last year
Corn planting in the southeastern counties of Steele, Dodge, Rice, Freeborn and Mower is far ahead of the pace of last year, farmers and University of Minnesota Extension officials report.
With ideal planting conditions, farmers were able to nearly complete corn planting by early this week. They then placed their focus on planting soybeans.
Claire LaCanne, University of Minnesota Extension educator serving Steele and Rice counties, said early last week that corn planting was 20 days ahead of last year and nine days ahead of the five-year average.
"We are ahead of last year by leaps and bounds," LaCanne remarked.
Last year, farmers had to operate in less than ideal conditions, so that they could get their crops in. This year, planting and other field operations are going much more smoothly so far, area farmers report.
"We had to deal with lots of wet fields and poor planting conditions," said Patrick O'Connor of O'Connor Family Farms. "We worked much harder to get the crops planted last year," he added.
O'Connor said he has done most of the planting and acreage this year will be similar to last year.
Spring wheat planting and potato planting is also ahead of last year, Extension officials report. Sugar beet planting was said to be almost two weeks ahead of last year.
"Hopefully, we will get a good summer for our crops but that remains to be seen because we are controlled by Mother Nature," O'Connor stated.
Last year's harvest started late and seemed "to drag on forever," an area farmer said. "It was cold and miserable and a challenging time for us," he continued.
The outbreak of the coronavirus COVID-19 has had its effects on many local farmers in southeastern Minnesota, especially with livestock production.
"We are doing everything we can to survive this pandemic," said O'Connor. "We are doing our small part and everyone else has to do their small part," he explained.