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April Showers Brings May Flowers, or Cover Crops.

by M. Scott Wells - Forage and Cropping System Agronomist

Being new to this state, I have been curious about how this spring compares to the previous year as it relates to precipitation. This time last year, much of Minnesota reported below normal precipitation (Figure 1a). However, across Southern Minnesota this year there has been greater than normal precipitation reported with some areas departing more than 6-inches from the normal (Figure 1b).

Screen Shot 2014-05-02 at 5.50.27 PM.pngFigure 1.Minnesota Monthly Departure from Normal Precipitation for April 2013 (a) and 2014 (b). NOAA - Advance Hydrological Prediction Services.

With the increase in precipitation this spring, coupled with cool temperatures, there could be greater risk of delayed corn planting. Like many of you, we at the University are waiting for the soil to dry and warm so that we can plant research crops. Across the Midwest, several states report less than 20% of their corn acreage planted. In Minnesota, only 4% of the corn has been planted which is similar to the spring of 2013 (Figure 2). Unfortunately, judging the weather report for the next few days, it doesn't look like there will be a significant jump in corn acreage planted.

Screen Shot 2014-05-02 at 6.17.47 PM.pngFigure 2. USDA's weekly crop progress estimates of percentage of corn acreage planted as of April 28, 2014.

Last year, corn planting was delayed and forage producers were faced with significant loses of alfalfa acreage due to winterkill. During our winter workshops, forage producers asked where they could find cover crop seed to plant as forages. Questions arose as to which cover crop species and seeding rates were most appropriate to use along with where to source the seed. Many producers commented that they were not able to find cover crop seed last year, even though there were seed suppliers in Minnesota that did have inventory last spring. Below is a list of seed suppliers in Minnesota that carry cover crop seeds along with information concerning planting date and seeding rates. The below list is meant to assist producers interested in planting cover crops, however, it is not comprehensive or endorsed by University of Minnesota Extension Forage Program. Additional information on  can be found in the article  Prevented plant: Cover crop and forage options.

Albert Lea Seeds Albert Lea, MN 800-352-5247
Agassiz Seed & Supply West Fargo, ND 701-282-8118
Central Sota Buffalo, MN 763-682-1464
Cover Crop Solutions LaCrosse, WI 800-767-9441
Federated Coop Several Locations
FMX Turf Castle Rock, MN 651-463-8041
La Crosse Forage & Turf Seed, LLC La Crosse, WI 855-744-2956
Legacy Seeds, Inc. Scandinavia, WI 866-791-6390
Marty's Farm Service Several Locations
Millborn Seeds Brookings, SD 888-498-7333
Prairie Restorations Several Locations
Producer's Choice Seed Jordan, MN 877-560-5181
Shady Knoll Farm Redwood Falls, MN 507-640-0993
Waconia Farm Supply Waconia, MN 952-442-2126
Welter Seed and Honey Co. Onslow, IA 563.485.2762
Werner Farm Seed Dundas, MN 507-645-7995

Hopefully, May brings flowers and favorable planting conditions.

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