November provided most farm operators with one of the best November’s in recent history in regards to harvest conditions. The favorable November weather was much needed, since it followed one of the worst October’s ever as far as harvest weather. According to weather data at the University of Minnesota Southern Research and Outreach Center at Waseca, the median 24-hour average air temperature for the month of November was 41.2° F, compared to a normal average temperature for November of 31.4°. There was no recorded snowfall at Waseca in November, and only 0.91 in. of total precipitation was recorded in the month. This compares to a normal November precipitation of 2.32 in., which usually includes an average of 8.4 in. of snowfall.

October 2009 was the wettest October on record at Waseca, with 7.05 in. of precipitation recorded, compared to a normal October precipitation of 2.5 in. The weather data at Waseca also showed that 2009 was one of the coolest October’s on record, with a 24-hour average temperature of 42° F in 2009, compared to long-term average October temperature of 47.7°. The combination of the continued cold and very wet weather conditions in the Upper Midwest made October 2009 one of the worst months in recent memory for harvest weather conditions, while the warm, dry weather in the past month has been quite favorable for fall harvest conditions in most areas of the Midwest, and has allowed for significant harvest progress during the month of November.

Corn Harvest Continues
Farm operators in some areas have completed fall harvest, as well as finished most of their primary tillage and fall fertilizer applications. However, there are still several areas of the Midwest, including some farmers throughout the Corn Belt, that are struggling to complete the 2009 corn harvest and to complete fall fieldwork.

There continues to be large amounts of corn to be harvested in portions of western, central and southeastern Minnesota, as well as areas of Iowa, Wisconsin and North and South Dakota. In some locations, the corn grain moisture content continues to be 25% or higher, with 15% moisture necessary for safe storage. There continues to be temporary shortages of propane gas to dry corn in some areas, and selected grain elevators across the region are not able to accept wet corn, due to the dryer gas shortage and tight grain storage. All of these issues, combined with some recent rainfall, have lead to further corn harvest delays in some areas. There also continues to also be reports of kernel molds on the ears of standing corn in some areas.

Farm operators are reminded that Dec. 10 is the end of insurance period (EOIP) deadline to get corn, soybeans and other crops harvested in order to maintain normal crop insurance coverage on the 2009 crop. Producers can request additional time beyond the Dec. 10 EOIP deadline to complete harvest, if extremely wet or snowy weather conditions persist. Producers are expected to attempt to harvest their crop during the extension period, when weather conditions permit. It is important that producers notify their crop insurance agent prior to Dec. 10, if corn harvest will be delayed beyond that date.

Yields for 2009 corn have been good to excellent in many areas of southern Minnesota, with many reported whole-field or whole-farm dry bushel corn yields of 175-200+ bu./acre. However, corn yields in northern parts of south-central Minnesota and other areas have been much lower, more typically in the 150-180-bu. range, due to the extended period of dry weather this past summer. Soybean yields across the region were quite variable, with most yields ranging from just under 40 bu./acre, to slightly over 50 bu. Areas that received more rainfall in July had soybean yields slightly higher than that range.

Rural Legislative Forum on Dec. 3
Headlines vs. Facts: Agriculture’s Impact and Response to Food Outbreaks, Pandemics and Environmental Emergencies is the theme of the 27th annual Rural Legislative Forum on Thursday, Dec. 3 from 3:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in Heritage Hall at the South Central College, 1920 Lee Blvd., North Mankato, MN. Registration cost for the forum is $10/person, which includes a pork chop dinner prepared by the Nicollet County Pork Producers and all printed materials. No advance registration is necessary for the event.

We live in an era in which the agriculture and food industry is constantly being challenged by high-profile food safety, environmental and ethical issues. This forum will attempt to look at how we keep factual information included in the major media efforts related to these sensitive issues affecting the agriculture and food industry. The keynote speaker will be Dave Preisler, executive director of the Minnesota Pork Producers Association. The response panel will include Joe Spear, editor of the Mankato Free Press; Paul Omodt, vice president of Padilla Speer Beardsley; and Randy Doyal, CEO of Al-Corn Clean Fuel. Kent Thiesse, vice president of MinnStar Bank, will moderate the panel discussion.

Congressman Tim Walz is invited to be the dinner speaker for the Rural Legislative Forum. The highlight of the evening session will be a State Legislative Panel from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. State senators and representatives from south-central Minnesota have been invited to address audience questions related to the theme for the forum, and other key issues for the 2010 state legislative session. Reggie Edwards, executive director of Region Nine Development, will moderate the legislative panel discussion.

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.