A late freeze on May 19 that swept over much of South Dakota and portions of Minnesota did little to discourage corn farmers or permanently damage newly emerged corn plants.
“There was frost damage on a fair number of acres throughout Minnesota,” said Jeff Coulter, corn agronomist with the University of Minnesota. “Some acres, probably 10% to 15%, were nipped by the frost.”
Being that the emergent corn plants are still so small, though, damage will be minimal.
“It’s more of a cosmetic thing,” said Coulter. “The frozen tissue will dry up and drop off, and new leaves will replace it. The good news is that the crops are so small it’s not that big of a deal. The plants will recover quickly.”
As of May 18, 97% of Minnesota’s corn was planted, compared to a five-year average of only 70%, according to USDA’s latest Crop Progress report. Planting in South Dakota was also way ahead of schedule, with 83% of the corn in the ground compared with the state’s five-year average of 66%.
In Minnesota, 72% of the corn had emerged, while 46 percent of South Dakota’s had emerged as of May 18.
“We are off to a good start in Minnesota. It was the earliest planting ever. We had incredibly early planting conditions,” said Coulter. “And we are still ahead of where we usually are in most years.”
Coulter expects as good or better yields in Minnesota this year than in any other state.
The May 19 freeze sent temperatures to a record low of 29°F in Pierz, South Dakota. Elsewhere in the state temperatures plunged to as low as 27°F, according to Dennis Todey, extension state climatologist with the University of South Dakota.
“Our spring has not been that cold,” Todey notes. “But we have had a couple of individual events that caused problems.”
Most of what damage has occurred has been to small grains, including winter wheat, but even that damage appears to be limited. “So far we are not hearing or seeing anything of a serious nature,” said Todey. “Corn is not far enough along, and beans have not emerged for it to even be a problem.”
Soybean planting is also well ahead of schedule in Minnesota and South Dakota.
In Minnesota, 79% of the soybean crop was planted as of May 18, compared with an average of 33%; and 42% of South Dakota’s beans were in the ground, compared with an average of 24%, according to USDA’s Crop Progress report.
Only 21%of Minnesota’s beans and 4% of South Dakota’s had emerged as of May 18.
“It could be a very good year for Minnesota corn farmers. I’m really optimistic,” said Coulter. “And a lot of farmers are really excited.”