Dry, cool and periods of torrential rain have highlighted this growing season.
"It's been an unusual year," said Gale Plante, who grows corn, soybeans and kidney beans in the Fort Ripley area.
Even with the rain, central Minnesota remains in a drought after years with below-average moisture. But summer, one of the coolest on record, may be most remembered for its lack of summer sun.
Plante said the crops are one to two weeks behind.
"It takes heat units to make everything," Plante said.
With summer 2009 as one of the top 10 for coolest summers since the 1890s, it's no question area growers are missing the normal summer heat. The average temperature this summer has been 63.7 degrees with frost advisories coming before the end of August.
With this one of the top 10 for coolest summers since the 1890s, it's no question area growers are missing the normal summer heat. And summer's waning days just may help. The forecast calls for mostly sunny days through Labor Day with highs near 80. Brainerd Dispatch/Kelly Humphrey» Purchase reprints of this photo.
The State Climatology Office at the University of Minnesota reports a large section of the state remains abnormally dry, including all of Crow Wing and Cass counties, most of Aitkin and Todd counties and the northwestern part of Morrison County.
"With a few exceptions, 2009 growing season precipitation has been well short of historical averages nearly everywhere in Minnesota," the State Climatology Office reported at the end of August. "Some Minnesota counties are categorized as being abnormally dry or undergoing moderate drought. Precipitation totals have been roughly 50 percent to 75 percent of normal since April 1, falling short of average by four to seven inches."
For the last week of August, Aitkin was 6.7 degrees below the normal for this time of year and posted an average temperature for the week of 55.3 degrees.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported the soybean conditions in the state were rated 69 percent good to excellent. Topsoil moisture for the most of the state, including central Minnesota, was listed as adequate.
Statewide, the USDA reported 73 percent of the corn crop was rated good to excellent condition, 28 percent of spring wheat was harvested, 39 percent of barley was harvested and 73 percent of oats were harvested as of Aug. 30. Potatoes were 16 percent harvested and the sweet corn harvest was 40 percent complete.
Corn crops were growing in southern Crow Wing County during a summer with unusual weather. Brainerd Dispatch/Kelly Humphrey» Purchase reprints of this photo.
And summer's waning days just may help. The forecast calls for mostly sunny days through Labor Day with highs near 80.
Plante said working in agriculture means you have to take what you get and there are always people who have a worse time with drought or floods.
"Those are the people you feel sorry for," he said.
No matter what the weather conditions, the expenses for equipment and planting remain, Plante said. But he remained optimistic and repeated an adage that seems to sum it all up for farmers and growers whose livelihoods depend on something they have no control over - the weather.
"If you don't like what you are doing, do something else."
RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5852.
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