A little rain would be nice …

A LOCAL FARMER kicks up dust as he works the ground on his field just west of Tracy last week before a little but much-needed rain fell last Wednesday. Photo / Per Peterson

By Per Peterson

Soybeans have, for the most part, gone in earlier this season across the state, but they’re still facing one of the most important roadblocks to a strong growing season: lack of rain.

After a very productive 2020, farmers in Minnesota have been in the fields for a couple weeks, either working the soil, spraying or planting corn and beans. But they could use some more moisture.

Mike Landuyt, who farms east of Tracy, resisted the urge to switch his operation up this year and plant soybeans before corn. His corn went in April 22, with beans going in about a week later.

“I haven’t been brave enough to try it yet — I’ve always been worried about them freezing off,” he said. “They say they’re tougher now and can take more cold. They are definitely going in earlier.”

That said, Landuyt, along with every other farmer, knows how important a healthy shot of rain will be, as the area has been dry since less than one-half inch fell last Wednesday. Last year’s soil had a healthy reserve in the ground after a very wet 2018 and 2019.

“If you dig, there’s dampness there, but not too much,” said Landuyt. “There was some (moisture) in the corn ground, beans until we got that two-tenths, we were planting in dry dirt. Even last spring, as good as it went in, we had a reserve — we don’t have that reserve this year. We’re gonna need some timely rains now. If we get ‘em, we’ve got a lot of potential, if we miss them, it’s gonna hurt.”

Liz Stahl, University of Minnesota Extension educator said last week’s moisture in the area helped with the arid conditions, but only to a point. She said some areas got more rain than others, and most of southern Minnesota is either abnormally dry or, even further south, in a moderate drought.

“A little bit helped,” she said. “But over the last 30 days we’re about 1 to 3 inches below average, and the last 60 days, it’s about 2 to 4 (inches), depending on where you’re at in Minnesota. We’ve got a little moisture deficit here, but it’s not one that we can’t overcome. But we certainly are drier than what we’ve been used to going into other springs.”

The Tracy area received between 0.2”-0.4” of rain on a chilly Wednesday last week, and area residents woke up to a light frost Thursday. There has been little precipitation since then, but the forecast is calling for some rain this weekend.

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.