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Farmers Welcome Warmer Weather as Planting Races Ahead

Emily Unglesbee, DTN Staff Reporter

5/21/2021 | 11:44 AM CDTPlanting has sped ahead on Arnusch Farms in northeast Colorado after a much-needed dose of rainfall eased drought conditions. After a cool start to the month, farmers have made rapid planting progress this May. (Photo courtesy of Marc Arnusch)ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) — May’s chilly start wasn’t welcomed by many this spring. Cool soils slowed emergence, stymied pre-plant herbicides and took a toll on young crop stands. 

But by golly, cereal crops were happy. 

“It has been fantastic for winter cereals!” Dan Petker, a farmer from Ontario, Canada, enthused. “There are some phenomenal-looking wheat and cereal rye crops around us.” That was the conclusion of the Hard Winter Wheat Tour, as well, which found the crop exceeding yield expectations throughout Kansas this past week, thanks in part to the timely moisture and moderate temperatures that have been less ideal for the emergence of spring crops. (See more of DTN’s coverage of the wheat tour here: .) 

Now it’s those spring crops’ turn to shine, Petker said. 

“We’re hoping to finish corn by the May long weekend, something we have never done before,” he remarked. “Daily and — just as important — nightly temperatures are starting to rise, after what was a cold, windy first 10 days of the month.” 

Petker’s experience — a rapid planting pace despite cool and wet conditions — was a common one among DTN’s Farm Advisers, a group of trusted farmers and ranchers who update DTN every month via email about their farming operations. This month, farmers in the central and eastern Corn Belt, the Southeast, Mid-South and even the recently parched Southern Plains reported adequate or even plentiful moisture, and a welcome rise in temperatures this week, after an unseasonably cool start to May. 

In contrast, farmers farther north reported increasing planting and crop development problems from continued dryness, as drought has deepened in the Northern Great Plains. 


“The first half of May had an upper air pattern that certainly was unfavorable for spring farm work,” DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist Bryce Anderson explained. “A large cold-air trough over the north-central U.S. got hemmed in by a very warm upper-level ridge of high pressure in the Canadian Prairies. This pattern brought much-below-normal temperatures to many areas.” 

It also brought welcome rain to many, he said. “Precipitation was focused in the south-central and eastern areas, which were on the edge of that cold upper low and in the boundary between large air masses where we typically find storm formation.” 

For some, that moisture was a bit much. Kyle Samp thinks the spigot might be stuck in the on position above north-central Missouri where he farms. His fields have received more than 5 inches of rain since Sunday, with more on the way. “I think I could have gone water-skiing on several of our fields today,” he quipped. 

Other Farm Advisers were much more grateful for the moisture they received this month, none more so than northeastern Colorado farmer Marc Arnusch, who was considering idling most of his acres last month in the face of severe drought conditions. Now, thanks to timely rains, his operation has some irrigation water allocations to work with. It’s only 30% of their normal supply, but Arnusch isn’t complaining. “Our moisture levels have improved significantly since last month,” he wrote. “Our corn planting conditions were excellent, and we should see stands coming up in the next five to seven days.”

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