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Spring planting almost done in Minnesota; U.S. farmers have put in record corn crop

Photo by Brian Hansel Thronson Farms ran a 90-foot John Deere air planter Monday night on a field south of Fergus Falls. The 2012 spring planting season is wrapping up in Minnesota.

The 2012 spring planting season is wrapping up in west-central Minnesota, and a record corn crop is in the ground nationwide, according to Leaf River Ag Manager Scott Dau.

As of May 17, Dau said about 90 percent of all planting is done in the Wadena area. Wheat and corn is sprouting, and farmers are putting in soybeans.

"We're off to a very good start," Dau said.

Farmers were not in such a good position last year in mid-May, due to a late spring. Dau heard a lot of concerns from farmers last year about their corn crops reaching full maturity. Their worries subsided when good sub-soil moisture levels combined with good summer growing conditions to turn the tables in their favor. Not only did corn producers do well, wheat and soybean producers also had good crops.

Corn is living up to its reputation as a favorite with farmers this spring, despite that prices have been depressed by the law of supply and demand, according to Dau.

"Corn is king," Dau said, adding that what happens in the "I" states (Indiana, Illinois and Iowa) in the coming months will determine a lot about corn prices this fall. The three states annually put in the most corn in the United States. Dau added that farmers in North Dakota, a state that has traditionally been one of the nation's largest spring wheat-producing states, planted a record corn crop.

The United States Agricultural Statistical Service report of May 14 indicated that 44 percent of soybeans have been planted, as opposed to just seven percent at the same time last year. Additionally, only one percent of Minnesota's corn crop emerged by May 13 last year. This year, 45 percent of the corn emerged. The average percentage for emerged corn over the last five years is 23 percent on May 13.

Corn is at the $4.40-4.50 range according to Dau. Two months ago farmers could have contracted corn for more than $5 a bushel.

Dau noted that central Minnesota has not entered the growing season with good subsoil moisture levels this spring.

"I would say we're not desperate, but we need some rain," Dau said.

Because of the lack of good subsoil moisture, Dau expects the tonnage of the first hay crop this year to be lighter than it was a year ago.