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Wet field conditions limiting farmers in region

Clint Magnus is a Terragator operator and trucker at Schmitz Grain, Inc., of Slayton, Lake Wilson and Curry, Minn. Mikkel Pates / Forum News Service1 / 2
Clint Magnus monitors urea fertilizer being loaded into his Terragator for Schmitz Grain, Inc., of Slayton, Lake Wilson and Curry, Minn. Mikkel Pates / Forum News Service2 / 2

WOODSTOCK, Minn. — Excuse him, but Clint Magnus can only take a minute or two from his fertilizer spreading duties. The cold, damp conditions this spring have everyone hopping to get everything done.

For the past three years, Magnus has operated a TerraGator fertilizer applicator for Schmitz Grain out of Slayton, Lake Wilson and Curry, Minn. During the rest of the year, he's hauling grain for the elevator. On the side, he farms with his parents, Doug and Brenda, near Slayton.

During "crunch time" Magnus often operates before the sun comes up to after it's gone down — 15-16 hours a day and seven days a week if weather is fit. The heaviest fertilization period runs up to three weeks, and less often after that.

On April 12, Magnus was laying down an application of urea nitrogen in anticipation of a corn crop near Woodstock in Pipestone County. He travels 60 to 70 miles for producer-clients from near the Iowa border to Lake Benton, Minn.

"Temperatures are holding back the farmers; they don't want to put their crop in the ground yet, but with the moisture coming they're only getting two- and three-day windows to get their field work done. It doesn't warm up very fast when it's like this," he says.

Here's how things are shaping up elsewhere in Agweek country, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service weekly crop-weather report:

Minnesota

Damp, cool conditions made just under three days suitable for fieldwork. Farmers have started tilling ground and continued fertilizer application and rock-picking. Topsoil moisture is 79 percent adequate and 18 percent surplus. The wettest area is the central to southeast part of the state, where 3 inches or more of precipitation had fallen since April 10.

About 9 percent of the spring wheat was planted, compared to 25 percent for the five-year average; sugar beet planting was 18 percent planted, behind a 23 percent average; 16 percent of potatoes were planted, 10 percent average; 17 percent of oats planted, 32 percent average. Pastures are rated 18 percent poor or worse, 38 percent fair, 41 percent good and 3 percent excellent.

North Dakota

Small grains planting has started, except in northern areas where heavy winter snows are still keeping the ground muddy. Some farmers in isolated area are experiencing flooding. The average expected fieldwork date is April 20. Topsoil is 8 percent short or worse, 71 percent adequate and 22 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture is 9 percent short or worse, 74 percent adequate and 17 percent surplus. Air temperatures are 6 degrees higher than normal.

Spring wheat planting was 6 percent completed, compared to an 11 percent five-year average. Sugar beet planting was 12 percent completed, behind the 15 percent average. Durum, barley, canola, flaxseed and oats planting was all less than 2 percent completed.

Calving was 63 percent complete, and lambing was 75 percent complete, both about average. Lambing is experiencing below-average death losses. Stockwater is only short in 4 percent of the reports, with 87 percent rated adequate and 9 percent rated surplus.

South Dakota

Central and eastern South Dakota saw snow, sleet and freezing rain. Topsoil moisture is rated 3 percent very short, 13 percent short, 81 percent adequate and 3 percent surplus. Subsoil is 20 percent short or worse, 80 percent adequate and one percent surplus.

The state's winter wheat crop condition is rated 6 percent poor, 41 percent fair, 52 percent good and 1 percent excellent. Spring wheat was 52 percent planted compared to 44 percent for the five-year average. Oats was 48 percent planted, 46 percent average, with 10 percent emerged compared to 13 percent average. Barley is 19 percent planted, behind the 23 percent recent average.

Cattle and calf conditions are rated 85 percent good to excellent, with 65 percent of calving complete, just ahead of average. Sheep and lamb conditions are 77 percent good to excellent, with lambing 83 percent complete compared to the 76 percent average. Death losses are rated 70 percent average and 30 percent low. Hay and roughage supplies are 79 percent average to surplus and stockwater is 86 percent average to surplus.

Montana

Typical spring temperatures are highs ranging from the 50s to 80s, to lows from 11 degrees to the lower 30s. Topsoil conditions are 93 percent adequate to surplus, an improvement from 61 percent last year.

Seeding has started, with 9 percent of dry peas planted and one percent of lentils planted, averages unavailable. Only 1 percent of oats have been planted, compared to 15 percent average; 2 percent of sugar beets planted, compared to 10 percent average. Winter wheat conditions are 77 percent good to excellent, compared to 58 percent average. Pasture and grazing conditions are 56 percent good to excellent, compared to the five-year average of 26 percent.

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