Small grain planting in 2020 started out well behind the 5-year average pace due to cold weather and spring snowstorms. However, row crop planting pace was well ahead of normal with over 40% of the corn acres planted by the end of April. Row crop emergence followed the same trend as planting. There were 4.9 days suitable for fieldwork the last week of April compared to last year’s 2.0.
Small grain emergence got off to a slow start but caught up to normal. The weeks ending June 7 and July 26 saw the best pasture and range conditions of the season with 71% rated in good to excellent condition.
Topsoil moisture started drying out in late spring and by the end of September rated 15% short to very short. In general, moisture supplies were mostly adequate throughout the season.
Small grain harvest began with oats starting in mid-July, far ahead of last year and nearly a week ahead of the 5-year average. Dry conditions allowed for great harvest progress through August and all small grains were harvested by mid-September, with spring wheat wrapping up last.
Soybean harvest began in mid-September, with corn for grain harvest not far behind. Ideal weather conditions throughout September and October allowed farmers the opportunity to quickly harvest their row crops with an average of 5.3 days suitable for fieldwork during those months. Harvest for a majority of Minnesota crops started early and stayed ahead of the average pace. Virtually all spring planted crops were harvested by Nov. 22.
Corn planting started in mid-April, ahead of the previous year’s pace. Planting progress rapidly advanced to nine days ahead of the 5-year average with 40% planted by April 26. Progress remained well ahead of last year and the average until virtually complete on May 31. Crop emergence also stayed ahead through the stage and reached 99% by June 14. The corn crop began silking in early July. Ninety-five percent of the crop was at the dented stage by Sept. 13, two weeks ahead of normal. Corn harvested for silage got off to an early start with 15% harvested by August 30 with completion occurring a month ahead of last year in early October. Warm, dry conditions boosted early maturity with 23% of the crop mature by Sept. 6, compared to 1% last year and the 6% average. Conditions also allowed an early start of corn for grain harvest with 6% complete by Sept. 27. This was 17 days ahead of last year and 5 days ahead of average. Harvest was 99% complete on Nov. 22. Condition remained relatively steady throughout the season with between 76 and 85% rated good to excellent. Ratings were well above last year but similar to years prior to 2019. The season’s lowest rating of 76% good to excellent came the week ending Sept. 13. Condition improved with some late season rains to 80% good to excellent for the last rating of the season the week ending Oct. 18.
Soybean planting began in mid-April and was 5% complete by April 26, well ahead of last year and four days ahead of the 5-year average. Planting was 95% complete by the end of May, over 2 weeks ahead of last year and 10 days ahead of average. Soybean emergence followed the same trend and was virtually complete by mid-June. Warm, dry weather boosted crop development throughout the season. Plants began blooming shortly after emergence was complete with 43% blooming by July 5, well ahead of last year and normal. Nearly all plants were setting pods by mid-August. Leaves started to drop the last week of August. Soybean harvest started a couple weeks later in mid-September with 7% complete on Sept. 20, equal to the average. By Oct. 25 farmers had harvested 98% of their soybean acreage, nearly four weeks ahead of last year and 18 days ahead of normal. Condition ratings for the season started in late May with 84% good to excellent. Good to excellent ratings remained in the 80’s until September when they declined slightly. The final crop condition rating of the year was 79% good to excellent for the week ending Oct. 4.
Spring Wheat seeding began in late April with 6% planted by April 26, one week ahead of last year but just over two weeks behind the 5-year average. Planting progress continued ahead of last year but did not surpass normal. Thirty percent of the spring wheat acres were planted from May 11 to May 17, reaching 70% complete. Planting was nearly complete by the end of May. Emergence also started slowly and remained behind average for almost the entire stage. One-third of the crop headed during the week ending June 28, advancing to 45% headed, 3 days behind normal. Nearly all of the acreage was heading or beyond by July 19. Spring wheat acreage started turning color in late June. Almost all of the acreage had turned color by Aug. 9. Harvest began near the end of July. Thirty-one percent of the spring wheat acreage was harvested during the week ending Aug. 30, advancing to 85% harvested. Harvest was virtually complete on Sept. 20, well ahead of last year and a few days ahead of average. Spring wheat condition started the season at 81% good to excellent, which is the lowest first rating since 2016’s 70% good to excellent. The lowest rating of the year happened on July 19 with a rating of 73% good to excellent. Conditions improved slightly and ended the season at 77% good to excellent for the week ending Aug. 23..
Oat seeding began in early to mid-April at a pace behind average, but progress advanced ahead of normal by the end of April. Emergence advanced quickly and moved ahead of average by May 3 with 35% emerged. Emergence remained ahead of normal through June 7 when the crop was almost fully emerged. The oat crop started to head in late May, ahead of average and remained ahead of average with heading nearly complete in early July. Oats began turning color as June ended. Ninety-eight percent of the acreage had turned color by Aug. 2. Harvest for grain began in mid-July, well ahead of last year and slightly ahead of average. By Sept. 6 harvest was 97% complete, just over one week ahead of last year and two days ahead of average. Oat condition began the season with a season low rating of 57% good to excellent on May 10 and rose to a season high of 78% good to excellent by the end of May. Conditions declined gradually for the remainder of the growing season and ultimately ended at 67% good to excellent for the week ending Aug. 9.
The first cutting of alfalfa hay started in mid–May. First cutting progress skipped ahead of the average pace on May 31 with 21% complete. First cutting progress remained ahead of average with 96% harvested by June 28, almost two weeks ahead of last year. The second cutting of alfalfa hay was underway by June 21. Although second cutting progress moved ahead of normal by July 5, it fell behind by July 26 and remained behind until the cutting was complete. The first hay condition rating of the year was 71% good to excellent on May 17. Warm, dry weather stunted regrowth for much of the season. The final all hay condition rated 60% good to excellent for the week ending July 19.
Barley seeding began in mid-April, ahead of last year, but behind the 5-year average. Planting progress continued ahead of last year but never moved ahead of normal. Substantial progress was made during the week of May 10 to May 17 when nearly one-third of the total acres were planted, advancing to 69% complete. Planting was nearly completed by the end of May at 97%. Emergence had a similar pattern as planting as it started behind average; but emergence moved ahead of normal by June 7 at 97% emerged. Heading started in early June. Warm, dry conditions boosted development beyond normal in early July and the stage neared completion at 97% headed on July 11, three days ahead of normal. Harvest got underway near the end of July with 16% complete by Aug. 2. Harvest surpassed the average pace during the week ending Aug. 16 and remained ahead of normal until harvest was 95% complete on August 30, six days earlier than the previous year. Barley condition rated 82% good to excellent to begin the season on May 31. Dry conditions generally reduced ratings through the rest of the season, ultimately ending at 74% good to excellent for the week ending Aug. 23.
Dry edible bean planting got underway as April came to a close. Planting progress fell behind normal and remained behind until early June. By June 14 planting was 98% complete, just over a week ahead of last year and three days ahead of normal. Although dry edible bean emergence began slightly behind average, it quickly jumped well ahead of last year and average with 21% emerged on May 24. Warm, dry weather helped emergence reach 98% by June 21. Almost all the dry edible bean crop was blooming by early August and plants setting pods began less than a week into July. By the end of August, 42% of the crop had dropped their leaves. Harvest began slightly behind the normal pace in the beginning of September, but ahead of last year. Harvest progress surpassed the average pace in early October and remained ahead with harvest 97% complete on Oct. 11. Crop condition started out on June 14 rated 86% good to excellent but declined slightly through the season. The final crop condition on Sept. 20 was 80% good to excellent.
Sugarbeet planting started in mid-April, ahead of last year, but behind the 5-year average. Over one-quarter of the crop was planted during week ending April 26 to reach 29%. Planting progress remained behind average for the remainder of planting. Harvest got under way in mid-August, comparable to the average start. Harvest progress moved ahead of normal in late August and stayed well ahead of normal through completion. Harvest was 98% complete on Oct. 18, just over three weeks ahead of normal. The first sugarbeet condition rating of the year on June 7 was 96% good to excellent. Good to excellent sugarbeet condition ratings remained relatively steady, hovering around the mid-90s, with the lowest rating on July 26 at 92% good to excellent. The last rating of the year was 93% good to excellent on Oct. 4.
Sunflower planting started in early May, a little ahead of last year but behind average. The same trend continued until the first week of June. Planting progress was 95% complete on June 7, six days ahead of last year and three days ahead of average. Sunflower harvest got underway during the week ending Sept. 20, well ahead of last year, but a near normal. Harvest was nearly complete with 97% done by Nov. 1, over five weeks ahead of last year and four weeks ahead of average. The first condition rating of the year was 74% good to excellent for the week ending June 14. Conditions improved to a season high of 82% good to excellent on Sept. 13. Conditions declined slightly to a final rating of 77% good to excellent on Oct. 11.
The Crop Progress and Condition Report is made possible by the dedication of the many farmers, FSA, NRCS, Extension, and agribusiness personnel who provide information each week.