State seeing near record growing season

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Minnesota has been experiencing one of the warmest growing seasons on record, according to Michelle Margraf of the NOAA-NWS Office in Chanhassen.

For agricultural statistics keepers, the growing season starts May 1. But for many farmers, the near record cold and snowy April kept them out of the fields because of cold soils and wet conditions.

Less than 35 percent of the state’s corn crop was planted in the first 10 days of May and less than 10 percent of the soybean crop. But rapidly warming temperatures in May allowed farmers to make rapid progress with planting. Soils warmed quickly and crop development took off.

May was nearly 6 degrees warmer than normal on a statewide basis as well as in western Minnesota. June was nearly 3 degrees warmer than average. The combination of May-June in 2018 produced the fourth warmest start to the growing season in state history, averaging 4.5 degrees warmer than normal. Only 1934, 1977, and 1988 were warmer, University of Minnesota Climatologist Mark Seeley reports.

The first two weeks of July have been more than 4 degrees above average, continuing May and June’s warm trend. “If this pattern of warmth persists throughout the balance of July then we will record the warmest May-July period in state history,” Seeley said. But, a cooling trend is moving in.

“Fortunately the second half of July looks to be near normal or cooler than normal, so we will fall off this record-setting pace,” Seeley writes.

Just how warm it has been is reflected in the growing degree days accumulating as measured at the USDA Swan Lake Research Farm in Stevens County.

Growing degree days are an indicator of crop progress. Warm days speed growth along while cool temperatures can cause development to slow down. Those cool temperatures can have an impact on yield. When growing degree days are behind average, farmers generally look for a late frost to allow their crops to reach full maturity....


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