The corn crop in southern Minnesota was planted in near-record fashion during a 10-day period from April 15 to 24. Nearly ideal planting weather during most of that period resulted in 75-80% of the corn being planted as of April 24 in many portions of south-central Minnesota. Many producers finished their corn planting by that date, and were waiting a bit to begin planting soybeans. Based on university and seed company research, the ideal window to plant corn in for optimum yield potential in southern Minnesota is April 20 to May 5, so most corn in that region will likely be planted in that window for the 2009 growing season. Corn planting has not progressed as rapidly in central Minnesota, where wetter soil conditions and colder soil temperatures have slowed the planting progress somewhat.

One concern in many areas late last week was the rapid depletion of topsoil moisture, due to the very strong winds and the extremely limited rainfall during the month of April in most areas. The dry topsoil concern in most areas of southern Minnesota and northern Iowa was alleviated for the time being this past weekend, when an inch or more of rain fell across the region. This will be very beneficial to the newly planted corn for good germination and early seedling growth. It should also provide good seedbed moisture for the remainder of corn planting and for soybean planting. Many farmers will likely begin soybean planting after May 1, provided that soil temperatures are adequate for good seed germination. Soybeans can be planted up until about May 20-25 in order to maintain optimum yield potential. In general, soybean yields are less sensitive to planting dates than corn yields are.

Early planted small grains, alfalfa and canning peas have emerged in southern Minnesota. In general, the winter kill injury to existing alfalfa stands from this past winter appears to be minimal. The recent rainfall should be quite beneficial to both new and existing alfalfa fields.

2009 CCC Loan Rates
USDA has announced the CCC loan rates for 2009. Based on language in the 2008 Farm Bill, the National CCC loan rates for 2009 are exactly the same as the 2008 loan rates. The 2009 national loan rates are $1.95/bu. for corn, $5/bu. for soybeans and $2.75/bu. for wheat. The 2009 county loan rates for all crops have also been released, and can be found on the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) web site at: www.fsa.usda.gov/fsa.

It is important to note that the 2009 CCC loan rates will be reduced by 30% for any producers who enroll in the new ACRE farm program option for the 2009 crop year. ACRE enrollment started on April 27 at county FSA offices and will continue until Aug. 14, 2009. With ACRE enrollment, the adjusted national CCC loan rates for 2009 would be $1.37/bu. for corn, $3.50/bu. for soybeans, $1.93/bu. for wheat. County CCC loan rates will also be adjusted downward by 30% for 2009 for producers that enroll in ACRE. The adjustments in CCC loan rates are a very important factor to consider when deciding on ACRE enrollment for 2009. Producers with questions on the impacts of ACRE enrollment on CCC loans should discuss this with county FSA officials before finalizing their ACRE decision for 2009. Producers seeking a copy of an ACRE information sheet and worksheet and a listing of useful ACRE Web sites should contact Kent Thiesse 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.