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Cold And Crops: Minnesota Farmers Need Warmer Weather To Begin Fieldwork

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- It's not unheard of to have this kind of spring weather, but when it constantly feels more like February than April, Minnesotans get a little frustrated -- especially farmers.

"Enjoying the sunshine in here," said Tonya Lopachuk.

Lopachuk decided to escape to Pahl's Market in Apple Valley where it's always 75 and sunny.

"I was not happy with the snow. But I felt like if I stepped back in the greenhouse I'd be in a better mood," said Lopachuk.

She's dreaming of spring planting. Just like farmers are.

"We are definitely below situations in terms of what we'd like to do in terms of adequate planting and temperature," said Dave Nicolai, University of Minnesota Extension.

Air temperature isn't the only thing that matters for farmers. Right now, the soil temperature reads about 30 degrees. Ideally, they would like it to be 50 degrees to plant corn.

And those that plant sugar beets and other small grain crops, would like to be in the field by now. But the April 10 USDA crop report for Minnesota, shows we've only registered 0.2 days of suitable fieldwork this month.

"It becomes more of a traffic jam when you are trying to compact all of your work in terms of preparatory tillage, fertilization, planting operations, making time in case you have a breakdown. You are trying to compact all of that fieldwork in terms of time into the last week in April," said Nicolai.

On the plus side the wind can help dry out the fields and the cold can kill off a lot of pests. Nicolai farmers will be just fine as long as heavy April showers don't follow our February-like temperatures.

"I think at this point in time patience is a virtue to some extent. Though I think a lot of our farmers will have limited patience by next weekend and the following week," said Nicolai.

Nicolai said the last week of April and first week of May is the sweet spot for planting for corn and soybean farmers.

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