ROSEMOUNT, Minn. – The middle week of July was another wet one across the state with storms and heavy rainfall. With spraying done and wheat not ready to harvest, most of the field work is focused on making hay.
The third week of July proved to be a drier one, which hopefully allowed for more farmers to finish getting the second crop of hay done. Like all the crops in the state, hay remains behind.
“We just didn't get a window to do a true second,” said Mark Lostetter, agriculture research and production manager with the University of Minnesota Rosemount Research and Outreach Center. “Some of the second that we did around 10 days ago got rained on.”
For the week ending July 19, USDA estimated that 63 percent of the second cutting was complete across the state, according to the July 23 Crop Conditions and Progress Report. The hay crop is rated at 76 percent good-to-excellent.
For many growers, the decision has been to let the alfalfa grow and reach full bloom, or cut it and risk getting rained on.
“It's better to have full bloom, but it got rained on and went up poorly,” said Lostetter. “That was the choice we had to make, which may end up shorting ourselves a cutting this year.”
It has really been a tough year for hay producers. The constant rain has made getting anything put up dry a challenge.
The rain has had a slight benefit to the soybean crops.
“The most we've gotten on aphids is maybe a count up to 50, and the threshold is 300 plus,” he said. “We keep having rain events, so it knocks them off.”
The same is true for leafhopper in hay fields. The populations don’t have a chance to establish before they are washed away by the rain.
The USDA rates Minnesota’s soybean crop at 60 percent good-to-excellent. The crop is still eight days behind last year with 47 percent having reached the blooming stage.
Corn’s rating decreased slightly from last week with 57 percent being rated good-to-excellent. It is a full 10 days behind last year and a week behind the five-year average. An estimated 21 percent has reached the silk stage and much of the fields are tasseling.
“A lot of the corn is tasseled, so it is pollinating as we're speaking and conditions are pretty good for it,” he said.
The late July break from the rain also brought a break from brutally warm temperatures. The week of July 15-19 saw daily temperatures surpassing the 30-year normal temperatures, anywhere from a couple degrees to nearly 10 degrees.
As of July 22, temperatures cooled back down to the upper 60s and 70s, which is really going to help out with corn pollination.
“As long as a fertilization happens, which is going on right now and that's successful, it could be a really good corn crop around here,” said Lostetter.