Minnesota farmer appreciates moisture, at ease with later planting

Farm Forum

On the morning of April 23, there was snow covering the ground on Jerry Demmer’s farm in south central Minnesota – but he wasn’t worried about getting his 2013 corn crop in the ground.

“We have some time yet before I’d begin to be concerned,” he said. “If we started planting as late as May 15 and didn’t have a rain delay, we’d be done planting by May 22, and that’s plenty of time to produce a good crop.”

As for the snow on the ground on his farm near Clarks Grove, Minn., it mostly melted the same day it fell, slowly soaking into the soil. “We were short moisture here last fall and didn’t get much over the winter, but this spring we’ve been above normal, which is helping improve soil moisture conditions in our area,” Demmer said.

Last year, he started planting April 11 but only received 2.2 inches of rain in April and 12.6 inches for the entire crop year. That early planting date was certainly unusual because of the warm, dry spring in 2012, so the 4 inches of moisture received in April of this year is welcome, even if it means planting a little later.

“Nothing about last year was normal,” he said. “From the very early planting to lack of moisture during the growing season, to the record yields we were fortunate to have in our area. I’m expecting this year to be closer to the average, in terms of moisture, planting and yields, but the weather in June, July and August will tell the story.”

As for the 2012-13 corn crop, the 60-year-old Demmer said it was “the best crop I’ve ever grown.” Yields on his farm ranged from 185 to 215 bushels per acre (11.6-13.5 tons per hectare), with a farm average of 196 bushels per acre (12.3 tons per hectare).

“How we ended up with that good of a yield with that small amount of rain just shows you what the hybrids can do today and how the technology seed companies invested in and developed matters,” Demmer said. “In July during pollination we received only 0.67 inches of rain. That’s not much, and it shows we don’t need a lot of rain to make the crop, just a timely rain.”

Since there has been good – but not excessive moisture in his area this year, it will only take a few sunny, warm days to dry out the soil enough to begin planting. “Two or three dry, warm days and wheels will be turning,” he said. “I’m getting excited for the new crop year to get underway.”