- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 26, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Many of Minnesota’s farmers are getting an early start on spring planting, taking advantage of warm weather in hopes of higher yields and an earlier harvest.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that the state’s corn planting is now 45 percent complete. The agency’s estimation puts the state ahead of the five-year average and four days ahead of last year, the Star Tribune (https://strib.mn/1Tbcdud ) reported.

This is the second-highest amount of corn planted by this date on record, behind 2010, the agency said Monday.

Noah Hultgren, president of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, said about corn planting is about 60 percent complete in the Wilmar area near his farm.

“The earlier the better,” he said. “It helps the crop progress and grow faster so that we’re able to harvest it early enough.”

Several days of warm weather over the past few weeks have raised soil temperatures enough to allow corn planting, and many farmers will soon be able to plant soybeans as well, Hultgren said.

Last year, record yields of both corn and soybeans were produced across the state as a result of early planting, followed by rains during the growing season and a moderate fall.

The Department of Agriculture’s report indicated that sugar beet planting is 73 percent complete, more than three weeks ahead of average, and that farmers have begun to plant soybeans in the central and southern parts of Minnesota.

Spring wheat planting is 46 percent complete, two weeks ahead of average, while oat acreage is 68 percent planted, nearly three weeks ahead of average.

As of Sunday, topsoil moisture rated 74 percent adequate across the state, and subsoil moisture was at 79 percent adequate, according to the report.

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Information from: Star Tribune, https://www.startribune.com

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