There has been a lot of discussion lately regarding just how good the 2010 crop will be. The maximum yield potential probably depends on where you are in Minnesota, Iowa or other states. In general, the yield potential in Minnesota looks good to excellent in many areas, while in Iowa, several portions of the state have received extreme excess of rainfall throughout much of the growing season, which will likely reduce 2010 crop yields.

A combination of warmer-than-normal temperatures and adequate soil moisture has aided 2010 crop development, and has enhanced yield potential in most areas of Minnesota. While the yield potential is good to excellent in most areas, there are exceptions in some localities and on some individual farms. This is due to the frequent severe storms that have occurred throughout the growing season in some locations that have caused significant crop loss due to wind, hail and excessive rainfall, which will lead to some yield reductions in those areas. In some locations, there are several fields with 10-20% of the field lost due to weather problems, meaning the rest of the field will need to have that percentage extra yield in order to maintain the whole-field yield average.

A new concern with the 2010 soybean crop is late-season disease pressure that is showing up across the region on some soybean varieties. Brown stem rot, white mold, and sudden death syndrome (SDS) are all soybean diseases that have occurred in certain areas, and have the potential to reduce soybean yields on individual fields. SDS is probably the biggest concern of these diseases in 2010, as the disease has been increasing in coverage area and severity in southern Minnesota and northern Iowa in the past few weeks. SDS causes the soybean plant to die down prematurely, before the soybean plant has reached maturity. If an area of SDS in a soybean field becomes large enough, and occurs prior to soybean maturity, it can greatly impact the final soybean yield in some fields. There is no treatment for SDS, and causes of SDS are being studied by university and seed company scientists and agronomists.

The Pro Farmer company completed their annual 2010 crop tour on Aug. 20. Pro Farmer projects the national corn crop for 2010 at 13.29 billion bushels, with a national average corn yield of 164.1 bu./acre. With allowances for a 1 percentage point variation in the final corn yield due to late season crop conditions, the final U.S. corn yield would likely fall in a range from 162.5 to 165.7 bu. By comparison, the last USDA report, released on Aug. 12 and based on Aug. 1 crop conditions, estimated total U.S. corn production in 2010 at 13.4 billion bushels, and the nation corn yield at a record level of 165 bu./acre. The record U.S. corn yield was 164.7 bu. in 2009.

Pro Farmer estimates the 2010 U.S. soybean crop at 3.5 billion bushels, with a national average yield of 44.9 bu./acre; however, they allowed for a 2 percentage variation in the final soybean yield, due to SDS and other late season yield concerns, giving them a final 2010 yield range of 44.0 to 45.8 bu. In the Aug. 12 report, USDA projected a total U.S. soybean crop of 3.45 billion bushels, and a national average soybean yield of 44.0 bu., which matches the record U.S. soybean yield in 2009.

Pro Farmer estimated Minnesota’s corn yield at 177 bu., and soybeans at 47 bu., while Iowa estimates were at 178.5 for corn, and 50.5 for soybeans. By comparison, USDA projected the Minnesota corn average yield at 178 bu., and Iowa corn average yield at 182 bu.

General CRP Signup
The general Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) sign-up ends Friday, Aug. 27, 2010, at county Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices throughout the country. This general CRP sign-up is the first since 2006, is being implemented to offset the 4.5 million CRP acres set to expire on Sept. 30, 2010. The bids that are offered into CRP will be evaluated, using the erodibility index (EI) and the environmental benefits index (EBI). USDA plans to target the most environmentally sensitive land with the 2010 CRP sign-up, in order to reduce soil erosion, protect water and air quality, and to enhance wildlife protection and carbon sequestration. There will continue to be special focus on buffer strips near rivers and streams.

For more information on the general CRP sign-up in August, or the continuous CRP, landowners should contact their county FSA office.

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.