Minnesota farmers hope for rain after dry start to June

Farmers are keeping a close watch on the weather forecasts, hoping for rain. Though June is off to a dry start, they say it’s not time to panic just yet.

Ellyn Oelfke, a board director with the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, said weather is the one thing she can't control on her farm, which is in between Green Isle and Hamburg.

"It really looks like a promising crop. However, we're starting to see some drought stress happening on our plants. So ultimately, we just really need rain. And we missed the rain yesterday," said Oelfke, the owner of HyTest Ag.

She farms in Sibley County with her husband and his family, who are sixth generation farmers. They farm corn and soybeans using no-till and cover-crop practices. They were happy with the conditions in mid-May when they planted their seeds, but it's been a tough start to June.

"It's been a few weeks now since we've gotten rain … where we're at in Sibley County," Oelfke said.

It's a similar story with Scott County farmers, Mike Seifert Jr. and his dad, Mike Seifert Sr., who co-own Ravenview Farm. They also use no-till and cover-crop practices. They kept their eyes on the skies Saturday as rain came down in other parts of the Metro.

"It amounted to less than a 10th of an inch (of rain here), so it wasn't what we were hoping for," said Seifert Jr.

Seifert Sr. said the spring looked promising after the snow melt earlier in the year on their farm south of Jordan. Then, the heat set in. It was tough to watch after the droughts in 2021 and 2022.

"These last two years now and going into the third year is just unprecedented," he said. 

"In both of those years, we got rain until about the middle of June," added Seifert Jr. "The difference this year is that it has pretty much stopped raining in the middle of May, which makes things a lot tougher because you plant crops in May and they haven't had that chance to really get established. Once they're established, they can handle the dry weather better."

Their corn and bean plants are suffering right now, but they said having more diversified crops is proving beneficial right now. They also grow alfalfa hay to make high-quality horse hay.

The Seiferts describe themselves as "glass half-full" kind of people. They believe it’s still early enough in the season that their crops can make a comeback.

"If we could pick up a 2-inch rain here soon, that would help turn things around. There's still plenty of time for that, hopefully," Seifert Jr. said.

Farmers across Minnesota will also be crossing their fingers.

"If we don't see the rain that we need within the next few weeks to a month, we'll start to see the crop kind of dry and shrivel up. So it won't mature like we need it to, to get us to fall harvest time," Oelfke said.

Oelfke said even though last year was a drought year, it was still a good year for her, with an above average yield. So she’s hoping that will be the case again this year.