They're ready, but Mother Nature's not
Farmers are ready, with their equipment repaired and poised for spring planting.
Just add warm weather and they'll be set, said Lisa Behnken, regional educator for the University of Minnesota Extension.
That's not happening yet.
"It's pretty cool yet," she said. "It's just been cool."
Many farmers already were in the fields this time last year, but 2010 was unusual because no snow fell in March and temperatures were 7.7 degrees above normal.
This spring is actually more normal, she said, because most farmers begin serious field work and planting between April 15 and April 20. The forecast for the rest of the week calls for temperatures in the 50s and some rain.
That's not good. "We need some 60 degrees; we need some sunshine," Behnken said.
But she said there was plenty of time. With several warm days and a bit of warm rain, the frost will be disappear from the fields and they will be ready for work, she said.
If the region were to get three weeks of cool, wet weather, however, "that would be painful," she said.
Right now, many farmers are taking advantage of sub-freezing nights to spread manure in the mornings before ground thaws, she said.
It might be hard to duplicate last year, when many farmers reported bumper crops.
"It was a very good year," Behnken said. "We started (strong) and never stopped."
The summer was unusually warm and rain came at the right time. Even after heavy rain, which caused flooding, fields dried quickly, she said. In fact, fields were sometimes too dry and there were some fires in fields or combines.
Corn and soybean yields were about 10 percent above average in the region.
Prices last year were also exceptional and so far this year, have remained strong, boding well for farm income this year.