Ag Weather Forum

Cold Again Slows Fieldwork

Mike Palmerino
By  Mike Palmerino , DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist
April 17 snow cover in major spring wheat-growing states of North and South Dakota and Minnesota of 2 to 4 inches has stymied spring wheat planting efforts. (DTN graphic)

Persistent cold weather is preventing spring wheat planting from getting underway in the Northern Plains. Sustained readings of around 20 degrees Fahrenheit below normal, along with snow cover, have prevented soil temperatures from reaching levels warm enough to allow germination of spring wheat -- or, for that matter, fieldwork of any kind. This combination has prevented producers from essentially planting any of the spring wheat crop so far this season.

South Dakota spring wheat planting, at just 1%, is 33 points behind average; Minnesota at zero is now 13 points behind average. A big concern now is that late planting will lead to the wheat crop going through its heading and filling stages in the midst of summertime heat. This could lead to reduced production. Some acreage may be switched to soybeans because of this consideration.

The Midwest is having similar delays in fieldwork and planting for corn. Episodes of cold and unsettled weather in the Midwest have prevented corn planting from getting underway in most areas. Conditions are quite bad right now in Minnesota with snow cover in some fields and frost in the ground. It looks more and more like major corn planting will not take place until May.

This is not as much of a concern as it was years ago, as producers are able to plant large amounts of acreage in a short time period. Once crops are planted, if the weather conditions that have produced these delays persist into summer, the impact from periods of cooler weather for the season and consistent precipitation would be very favorable corn and soybean development.

The Delta and the Southeast, meanwhile, are posting crop progress numbers that are near average for this point in the season, despite averaging a heavy rain event a week. Enough dryness and warmth in between the weekly rains have allowed growers in these regions to make good progress.

South America remains status quo this week: Scattered showers continue in central Brazil, making for very favorable conditions for developing second-crop (safrinha) corn. And, in Argentina, rain is occurring but too late to improve drought-stressed corn and soybean areas. Major losses in production of these two crops are likely.

Michael Palmerino can be reached at



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