Recovery from the frost damage that occurred on May 9 across the Upper Midwest has been quite slow, due to extended cloudy, cool conditions that existed across most of the region from May 9 to 14. A large percentage of the emerged corn in southern Minnesota and northern Iowa was impacted by the extensive hard frost on May 9. The exposed portions of emerged young corn plants received significant frost damage. Fortunately, the growing point on most of the corn was still below the soil surface, and was likely protected from serious frost damage. However, some agronomists are concerned that areas that had very cold temperatures below 28° F for a period of two to four hours or longer could have more significant damage. Frost damage to corn is also likely to be greater on sandier or peat-type soils, in fields that were planted to corn in 2009 and in areas near road ditches, grass waterways or other non-tillable acres.

Extremely cool temperatures and cloudy, rainy weather following the frost, from May 9 to 14, has greatly slowed the recovery of the frost damaged corn plants. Normally, damaged corn plants should start to exhibit new surface growth in about three to five days; however the very cool weather pattern has extended that period to seven to 10 days. Producers should be able to analyze corn plant recovery and make any replant decisions by about May 18-20 in most situations. It is probably best to rely on the assistance of a crop consultant or agronomist before finalizing corn replant decisions. According to University of Minnesota (U of M) research for southern Minnesota (2005-2008), an original corn population of 36,000 plants/acre can be reduced to 30,000 plants/acre with only an average 3% yield reduction, and to 24,000 plants with an average 9% yield reduction. By comparison, a May 20 corn planting date would have an average yield reduction of 8% compared to a late April planting date, and a planting date of May 25 would have an average yield reduction of 15% compared to an April planting date. So, it is highly likely that yield reductions from replanting corn in the last half of May could likely be greater than potential yield reductions from minor corn stand loss from frost damage.

At the U of M Southern Research and Outreach Center at Waseca, the high temperature from May 9 to 14 ranged from 44° to 56°, and was below 50° on three days. During that period only 8 growing degree units (GDUs) were accumulated; however, 32.5 GDUs were accumulated over this past weekend from May 15 to 17. The total GDU accumulation at Waseca since May 1 is now at 94.5, which is well below the normal from May 1 to 17 of 153 GDUs. Fortunately, the 2010 corn crop got off to a good start in April, with early planting dates, and approximately 150 or more GDUs accumulated in most areas. The weather forecast for late May in the Upper Midwest sounds quite favorable for crop production, and should help the frost damaged corn recover, as well as provide excellent growing conditions for newly planted soybeans.

2010 ACRE Program Signup
Eligible farm operators and landowners have until June 1, 2010, to enroll in the ACRE Program for 2010 at county Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices. Producers who enrolled in ACRE for the 2009 crop year are automatically enrolled in ACRE for 2010, 2011 and 2012 when they annually sign-up for the farm program at county FSA offices. Other producers can enroll in ACRE for 2010 when they sign-up for the 2010 farm program at anytime until June 1, 2010. All producers must sign-up for the 2010 Direct and Counter-Cyclical Program (DCP) at their county FSA office in order to receive their 2010 direct payments on eligible crops, including corn, soybeans and small grains. For more information on the ACRE program or 2010 DCP program sign-up, producers should contact their county FSA Office, or go to the USDA FSA website.

ACRE enrollment does require a signature from landlords on cash rental farm units. Producers are encouraged to analyze situations and scenarios that are more favorable for ACRE enrollment for 2010, as well as situations where the best option may be continuing with the traditional DCP farm program.

To receive copies of updated ACRE program information and a listing of websites with good ACRE information, please contact Kent Thiesse via e-mail at kent.thiesse@minnstarbank.com.

Editor’s note: Kent Thiesse is a former University of Minnesota Extension educator and now is Vice President of MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal, MN. You can contact him at 507-726-2137 or via e-mail at kent.thiesse@minnstarbank.com.