Crop conditions across the Upper Midwest in late July are generally good to excellent, but vary depending on planting date, impacts from the heavy rains and severe storms in June and July, and the timeliness and amount of July rainfall. Overall, across southern Minnesota, most corn and soybeans have good to excellent yield potential, with the exception of those locations that have been hard-hit by crop damage from hail, wind and excessive rainfall events. Much of the region received some very timely and significant rainfall in the past couple of weeks, which comes at a very important time for corn and soybean development. The combination of adequate moisture and slightly above normal growing degree units (GDUs) in the past few weeks has really improved the prospects for much of the 2010 corn and soybean crop.
However, not all areas are facing the high expectations for the 2010 corn and soybean crop. Many locations in Minnesota and northern Iowa have been impacted by hail, strong winds and heavy rainfall events since mid-June. This has resulted in thousands of acres being damaged and lost across the region, and thousands more acres that are partially damaged. Even though considerable acreage of corn and soybeans are not totally destroyed, they will likely have reduced yields this fall. The damaged plants are also usually more susceptible to diseases and harvest losses later in the growing season. Whole-field or whole-farm yield reductions of 10-20% can occur quite quickly from situations with partial drown-out damage, or moderate damage from hail, wind and excessive rainfall. So even if the balance of the field or farm yields well above expected yields, it may be difficult to achieve whole-farm yields that are much above average for 2010 in areas that have had significant impact from the severe storms and heavy rainfall events this Summer.
The warmer temperatures in July have helped the 2010 corn and soybean crop remain ahead of normal development. A total of 1,454 GDUs were recorded from May 1 to July 26 at the University of Minnesota (U of M) Southern Research and Outreach Center at Waseca, which is about 3% ahead normal for that date. However, much of the corn in southern Minnesota was planted from April 10 to 25, and thus benefitted from some significant GDU accumulation in late April, in addition to the listed GDUs since May 1. Most corn and soybeans in the region are about five to 10 days ahead of normal development for late July.
Rainfall for July at the U of M Research Center at Waseca has totaled 5.67 in. through July 26, compared to a normal total July rainfall of 4.47 in. at Waseca. In June, Waseca received 9.64 in. of rainfall, compared to a normal average June rainfall of 4.22 in. Total precipitation at Waseca for 2010 is about 3 in. above normal. Some potions of southern Minnesota and northern Iowa have received even greater amounts of rainfall in June and July than Waseca, and are experiencing extremely moist soil conditions. The amount of stored soil moisture is at 80-100% of capacity in most areas of the region, and is not likely to be a factor for crop development during the remainder of the 2010 growing season in most instances.
Corn takes about 60 days from the time of tasseling until the corn kernels reach physiological maturity (black layer), with normal accumulation of GDUs. Once the corn kernel is black-layered, it is usually free of significant damage from a killing frost. Most of the corn in southern Minnesota was fully tasseled by July 10-15 in 2010, so impacts from an earlier-than-normal frost should be somewhat reduced compared to 2009. Corn is usually 28-32% moisture at the time it reaches black layer, so some additional frost-free time is required to dry the corn down naturally in the field to the desired 15-16% for harvest and storage, in order to avoid expensive corn drying in the fall.
USDA has announced the 2010 County CCC crop loan rates for 2010. The county crop loan rates for corn and soybeans vary only slightly from year-to-year, because the national CCC loan rates in the 2008 Farm Bill were frozen through 2012 at $1.95/bu. for corn and $5/bu. for soybeans. County loan rates are based off a differential from the national CCC loan rate, depending on local basis patterns for a given commodity. County CCC loan rates for corn in Minnesota have only varied 2¢ or 3¢ in most counties in the past five years, while soybean CCC loan rates have varied 5¢ or less during that period.
County CCC loan rates for wheat will see the greatest change in 2010, due to the fact that the national CCC loan rate has been increased from $2.75/bu. in 2009, to $2.94 for 2010, according to provisions in the 2008 Farm Bill. However, the increase in county loan rates from 2009 to 2010 in Minnesota will be much higher, with most counties having CCC loan rate increases for wheat of 45¢/bu. or more. County loan rates for wheat in Minnesota are well above the National CCC loan rate.