Early planting begins in central, southern Minnesota as state sees mild, dry winter, record warmth in March; 3% of land prepared for corn, 1% prepared for soybeans as of April 1

ST. PAUL, Minnesota , April 3, 2012 () – Some farmers already are planting in central and southern Minnesota, thanks to the mild, dry winter and record warmth in March.

In its first weekly crop-weather report for Minnesota this season, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says farmers expect full-scale fieldwork to begin on April 12. That's seven days ahead of average.

Spring wheat was 3 percent planted as of Sunday, oats were 18 percent planted and barley was 6 percent planted. That compares with zero percent for those crops last year and for the five-year average.

Three percent of land was prepared for corn and 1 percent was prepared for soybeans.

Statewide average temperatures were 10 degrees above normal last week. Rain helped replenish some soil moisture, but the southern third of Minnesota continues to undergo a severe drought.

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