Many Minnesota farmers will play catch-up this spring
LAKE CITY, Minn. (AP)--Ralph Pruter of Lake City is one farmer who's eager for fields to thaw out enough to start tilling and planting.
Many farmers in the region barely got their crops out last fall before winter hit.
Pruter has already ordered his seed, but he's waiting on fertilizer to see if the prices will go down.
"There hasn't been much money to spend on new equipment this year," Pruter said while browsing at the Agri News Farm Show in late March.
University of Minnesota crop specialist Lisa Behnken said there will be an increased workload for many farmers this spring, because they weren't able to get a lot of their tilling and fertilizing done in the fall.
"Over the winter, farmers have been looking at their options, adjusting their no till acres and making adjustments in their planting equipment," Behnken said.
Farmers will also be thinking about the cost changes.
Ted Faulhaber of Byron farms 200 acres with his dad and brother near Rock Dell.
"Seed, fertilizer, fuel--they're all going up and we're not getting the return now," Faulhaber said. "You can tell feed costs have really gone up."
While they keep some to feed their beef cattle, most of their soybeans and corn are sold on the market.
Behnken said some farmers will likely do some pencil pushing this year to try to save on costs.
"Farmers are going to be more efficient with their fertilizer," Behnken said. "We recommend they do soil testing to see what nutrients their soil really needs."
During a recent conference, Dairyland Seed Co. surveyed 300 growers and found that 34 percent of growers plan to increase their soybean acres this year.
Behnken said soybean inputs aren't as high as corn inputs.
A long, drawn out spring like last year would be detrimental this spring, Behnken said.
She said a few more 50 to 60 degree days could speed up the thawing, meaning farmers could get in the fields sooner.
"We need warm conditions versus a month of rain," Behnken said. "They want to get their manure hauled as soon as the ground firms up."
Tom and Chris Wencl of Blooming Prairie don't think they'll be changing much this season.
The organic dairy farmers will be planting 60 acres of a pea/oat blend, 120 acres of corn, 85 acres of sorghum and 120 acres of hay ground.
"We're just going to do whatever keeps the cows fed," Tom said.