The 2007 corn and soybean crops in much of Minnesota are continuing to make rapid progress toward maturity. Early planting in most areas, combined with warmer-than-normal temperatures throughout most of the spring and summer, has led to the rapid advancement of the 2007 crop. As of Sept. 10, the total accumulated growing degree units (GDUs) at the U of M Research and Outreach Center at Waseca since May 1 was listed at 2,491 GDUs, which is 10% ahead of normal, or more typical of the average accumulated GDUs in late September. The GDUs across most of southern Minnesota are running 10 days to two weeks or more ahead of normal.

In southern Minnesota, most of the early-planted soybeans are turning yellow and shedding leaves, and are rapidly advancing toward maturity. Some of the later-planted soybeans still need some frost-free time to reach full maturity. There has been some soybean harvest on early soybean varieties, and in areas with severely drought-stressed soybeans, or soybeans that were damaged by hail this summer.

Most corn hybrids in southern Minnesota have reached physiological maturity, and are now drying down in the field. Once the corn reaches physiological maturity (typically at about 30-35% moisture), it is usually fairly safe from frost damage. Most growers intend to let the corn dry down naturally in the field to avoid high corn drying costs. Corn needs to be dried to 15-16% moisture for safe on-farm storage in grain bins. Growers have started some early corn harvest in some areas with poor-standing corn due to damage caused by summer storms and corn rootworm problems. Livestock producers have also been harvesting corn for corn silage and high-moisture corn for feed usage.

Calculating 2007 Crop Insurance Payments
During the past couple of months, many farm operators in Minnesota and surrounding states have begun to face the reality of reduced corn and soybean yields in 2007, due to drought, severe wind and hail storms and flooding in southeastern Minnesota. Many growers purchased upgraded levels of Federal Crop Insurance for the 2007 growing season because of the excellent revenue guarantees that were available at the crop insurance sign-up deadline on March 15, 2007. For producers who incur losses to their 2007 corn and soybean crop, the added revenue guarantees that were purchased last March are likely to pay big dividends this fall. Following are some things to keep in mind when calculating potential crop insurance indemnity payments for the 2007 corn and soybean crop:

· It is important for producers who are facing crop losses in 2007 to understand their crop insurance coverage and the calculations used to determine crop insurance indemnity payments. This information is also important to share with ag lenders, landlords and others.

· Producers who utilize an optional unit structure for individual farm units should be able to more fully maximize crop insurance benefits with APH and CRC or RA-HP policies. There is a lot of variation in crops from farm to farm and field to field in 2007.

· Kent Thiesse, farm management expert, has prepared a good information sheet on 2007 crop insurance coverage with APH or CRC/RA-HP crop insurance policies. The sheet includes an example of the insurance coverage by an 80% RA-HP or CRC insurance policies for corn and soybeans. The table also provides an easy-to-use format for farm operators to calculate potential crop insurance indemnity payments at various yields, harvest prices and crop insurance coverage levels. To receive the information sheet, contact Kent Thiesse at kent.thiesse@minnstarbank.com or 507-381-7960.

· Where to get additional information on potential 2007 Crop Insurance payments
A reputable crop insurance agent is the best source of information to make estimates for potential 2007 crop insurance indemnity payments. The University of Illinois Farm Management Web site has some good crop insurance information, and an online “What-If” Crop Insurance Payment Calculator.

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