The first two weeks of July have resulted in favorable growing conditions in much of southern Minnesota and northern Iowa, with adequate moisture and above-normal temperatures. Corn and soybean development has extended at a rapid pace since June 20, as a result of the warm temperatures, and rapid accumulation of growing degree units(GDUs) during that period. The total GDU accumulation since May 1 is running slightly ahead of normal at most locations in the region; however, much of the corn in southern Minnesota and northern Iowa was planted from April 10 to 25, and thus benefitted from some significant GDU accumulation prior to May 1.

Some portions of the region have been impacted from crop loss due to hail, wind and excessive rainfall resulting from numerous severe storms in late June and early July. The excessive rainfall and very moist soil conditions have lead to some yellowing of corn and soybeans, especially in low field areas. One concern as we go forward this growing season will be the rather shallow root systems for corn and soybeans, if weather conditions turn very hot and dry later in the growing season.

Much of the corn in the region is now in the tasseling and pollination stage – a very critical time for corn development. There is virtually no moisture stress on the corn in most areas, and temperatures have been fairly moderate thus far, which should bode well for enhancing the yield potential of the 2010 corn crop. Farm operators have begun scouting soybean fields for soybean aphids, which have begun to appear in some areas. The University of Minnesota recommends a threshold level of 250 aphids/plant on 80% of the plants before treating with insecticides. Producers are also finishing postemergence herbicide applications in soybeans for weed control, after significant delays due to wet field conditions.

Candidate Forums Highlight Farmfest
Candidate forums have been a feature at Farmfest in every even-numbered year for two decades, and 2010 will be no exception. Farmfest has hosted candidate forums for every statewide race for governor and U.S. Senate since 1990, as well as holding a congressional candidate forum every two years for potential congressional candidates in Minnesota districts that have a major emphasis on the agriculture industry, and a significant rural population.

The focus of past candidate forums has been on agriculture and rural issues, and that emphasis will continue again in 2010. There are many forums during the length of the campaign season that cover the vast breadth of issues facing candidates, but the Farmfest forums are one time when the focus is much more refined on the issues that are critical to farm families, small businesses and rural communities.

The governor candidates’ Forum on Rural Minnesota,which will be held at Farmfest on Wednesday, Aug. 4, at 10:30 a.m., has garnered considerable statewide attention, and even some national focus. All six of the major candidates for governor of Minnesota have confirmed to participate in the Forum. This includes Tom Emmer, Republican candidate; Tom Horner and Rob Hahn, Independent Party candidates; and DFL candidates Margaret Anderson Kelliher, Mark Dayton and Matt Entenza. A panel of Minnesota agricultural and rural leaders will pose questions to the gubernatorial candidates on a variety of issues affecting farm families and rural communities. The statewide primary election is on Aug. 10, and the general election is on Nov. 2.

The congressional candidates’ Forum on Agriculture and Rural Issueswill be held on the first day of Farmfest, which is Tuesday, Aug. 3, at 10:30 a.m. All congressional candidates from Minnesota’s First, Second, Sixth and Seventh Congressional Districts have been invited to participate in the Forum. Thus far, The following candidates have committed to participate in the forum: Congressman Collin Peterson (D) and Lee Byberg (R), his opponent in the Seventh District; Congressman Tim Walz (D), along with Randy Demmer (R) and Steven Wilson (I), his opponents in the First District; and Tarryl Clark (D), who is challenging Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R) in the Sixth District. A panel of agriculture reporters for radio and newspaper will pose questions to the U.S. House candidates on a variety of issues affecting agriculture and rural communities.

Ideas for questions may be submitted via e-mail to Kent Thiesse, Farmfest forum coordinator, at kent.thiesse@minnstarbank.com. That information will then be forwarded to the panel members that will be posing the questions to the candidates during Farmfest.

Forums will be held throughout the day on Aug. 3, 4 and 5, in the forum tent on the Farmfest site, which is located at the Gilfillan Estate, 7 miles southeast of Redwood Falls, MN. In addition to the two candidate forums, the 2010 edition of Farmfest will include special forums ranging from ideas for Minnesota’s next governor, to understanding carbon credits, to the future of the livestock industry, to strategies for agricultural education. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty will be the keynote speaker at the forum on Thursday, Aug. 5, at 10:30 a.m. All of the forums will provide ample time for questions, and follow-up discussion by panel members.

For more information on the forums at Farmfest, please contact Thiesse (507-381-7960), or go to the Farmfest website.

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.