Minnesota Farmer

Plant in mud?

The weather has been wild here in southwestern Minnesota so far this year, and it seems as if no one has a true handle on what will happen to our weather.  Back in January our local onion prognosticator told us we would be having really dry weather all year and predicted a dry April.  Even his Ember Day predictions did not see this snowy weather coming.  Little did he know that we would have one of the snowiest Aprils I’ve seen.100_2028

May didn’t start out much better.  I did get a few things planted in the garden, and a few area farmers got some oats and corn in the ground, but the May Day snow storm covered the area.  We did not get as much snow as some east of us got, but it was more than enough.  Weather signs have not been helping out this year.  One weather saying is coming true however “All signs fail in drought and flood.”images

No, that is not my planter and tractor, mine sat in the shed until last Tuesday, but it was in the yard for the last snowstorm.

So, what to do?  We are well past the date of April 23 when area farmers like to get started planting corn here in southwestern Minnesota.  Do we push the weather and start planting as soon as we can get equipment into the field?  Here’s a planting saying for you, “Plant in mud your crops a dud, plant in dust your bins will bust.”

Modern planting machinery needs dry ground to get the seed planted properly.  Mud is not your friend when planting corn.  There are a lot of parts that need to work right when you plant with a modern corn planter, and they all work best when the topsoil is a bit on the dry side.DSC02923

To make the best seedbed for a corn seed you start by opening a seed trench.  That means either knives or disk openers, neither of which likes mud.  Wet soil will smear on the sides of the trench and, when the soil dries, it will become hard, making it tough for the seed to get going.

Seed is dropped into the newly opened trench between gauge wheels that keep the trench at the proper depth.  The gauge wheels also help to start pushing dirt over the seed.   To operate smoothly the soil needs to be dry so it will not stick to the gauge wheels and change the planting depth.

Then come packer wheels that firm the soil over the seed.  Mud can actually cause these wheels to toss the seed out of the trench.  Also trying to pack in mud will make the soil hard.

So, we must have some dryer ground to plant into.  The forecast is not for much drying weather later this week, but it should come.  Even though he soil was dry at the end of 2012, this snow has really made it a muddy start of the 2013 planting season.

There is a bit of time yet, so I’ll not try to plant yet.  University data says that we have until the 25th of May before we need to switch varieties, and even after that there are shorter season seeds if we can get them.  This is going to be the latest starting date for me in all of my years farming.  For now we wait for dry weather.  Spring will come, I have to believe that.



3 Comments so far
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We have the reverse weather pattern here in Southern Ontario. April was cold and very wet with snow even close to the last day of the month and now May has been dry and sunny continuously for the first 5 days. Every day it is 20 Celsius. Every day the barometer is over 30 inches. Winds are from the southeast, usually a harbinger of weather change but not this year. I actually rolled out the hose today to look at watering the garden in a few spots where the sun exposure has dried out the surface soils to several inches deep. Got to make sure my perennials don’t get short changed. In any case in 2 weeks we move from here to an apartment so my gardening days will be diminished to working with planters and pots. Good luck with getting the planting in. I don’t envy the position you are in when weather becomes unpredictable. And I expect that is what we are going to see more of in the 21st century as our atmosphere heats up.

Comment by lenrosen4

I’m keeping my fingers crossed for all of us to get a good start to our crop after a strange spring!

Comment by Janice aka JPlovesCOTTON

Wednesday’s forecast, 90% chance of rain. NO!

Comment by Michael

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