Growing conditions for corn and soybeans are quite variable across Southern Minnesota. In South Central Minnesota most of the corn and soybeans have now emerged, with some of the early planted corn being 8-12 in. tall, but most corn being smaller. There are many portions of Southern Minnesota and Northern Iowa that have standing water from excessive rainfall in portions of some fields, which will require replanting if fields dry out on a timely basis. There are also still some isolated areas where soybean planting has not yet been completed. In addition, there has been some hail damage reported to crops in many areas throughout the region, which again may require some replanting when field conditions permit. Close to maximum levels of stored soil moisture exist in most areas, so any major rainfall events can quickly result in large amount of standing water in crop fields.

As a whole, most of the corn and soybean crop across Southern Minnesota and Northern Iowa is probably two to three weeks behind normal. This is a combination of later than normal planting dates, and much cooler than normal weather. At the University of Minnesota Agriculture Research Center at Waseca, the accumulated Growing Degree Units (GDU’s) from May 1 to June 9 was 415, which is about 13% below the average GDU accumulation of 476 on June 9, and about 30% lower than the GDU accumulation in early June of 2007. The GDU accumulation is 20% or more below long-term averages at many Southern Minnesota locations. Most growers are hoping for both drier and cooler weather in the coming weeks to improve growing conditions, and to allow for timely applications of post emergence herbicides for weed control.

Crop Insurance Decisions
Growers that have not completed their 2008 soybean planting face some difficult crop insurance decisions in the coming days. In Minnesota, June 10 (June 15 in Iowa) is the final date to plant soybeans with full crop insurance coverage. After that date, there is a 1% reduction in the maximum insurance coverage for each day that planting is delayed for a maximum of 25 days, until July 5 (July 10 in Iowa). After that time, the prevented planting coverage is set at 60% of the original crop insurance guarantee. It is definitely worthwhile to try to plant the soybeans after June 10 or 15, especially given the current soybean prices.

Another factor with revenue based insurance policies that have a “harvest price option” is that the revenue guarantees could increase by October compared to the base revenue guarantees in March. If a producer opts not to plant the crop and to accept the 60% guarantee, they would give up the potential for an enhanced revenue guarantee at harvest-time on lost percentage of coverage. This would be very important for farm operators that have forward contracted bushels of production for harvest or post-harvest delivery, based on the original bushel or revenue guarantee. It is especially important to take advantage of significant grain price increases through enhanced revenue crop insurance guarantees on forward priced grain that is lost, and must be replaced for market delivery.

Many producers are also facing replant decisions for corn and soybeans affected by damage from hail and standing water. If a producer has replant coverage on their crop insurance policy, they can be reimbursed replant costs at a rate of 8 bu./acre for corn and 3 bu./acre for soybeans times the price election chosen on their crop insurance policy. It is permissible for the producer to switch crops, say from corn to soybeans, after the first crop is destroyed. However, damage must be calculated on the first crop and the first crop must be released by the crop insurance agent, before it can be planted to an alternate crop. For more information regarding crop insurance decisions on prevented planted and replant crop acres, producers should contact their crop insurance agent.