CROP CONDITIONS IMPROVE
Nearly all corn and soybeans across Southern Minnesota were planted by June 1, with a large majority of the corn emerged, and significant amount of soybeans emerged. Crop growth is definitely lagging behind recent years due to later than normal planting in many areas, and much cooler temperatures than have existed in April and May in the past few years. There have been some reports of crop emergence problems in portions of fields, due to compacted soil conditions and dry topsoil following planting. Many areas had not received significant rainfall from the first week of May until May 29. Much of the region received 1.5 to 4 inches of rainfall from May 29-31, which should help alleviate most of the crop emergence problems.

At the University of Minnesota Southern Research and Outreach Center at Waseca, the average air temperature in May was 53.3 degrees F, compared to a 30-year average May temperature of 58.4 degrees F. The accumulation of growing degree units (GDU’s) at Waseca in May was 258 GDU’s in 2008, compared to 428 GDU’s in May, 2007, and a 30-year average of 337 GDU’s accumulated in May. The total precipitation recorded in May at Waseca, was 3.82 inches, with much of that being recorded in last few days of the month. The average precipitation for May is 3.96 inches. Stored soil moisture is now near capacity in many parts of South Central Minnesota; however, the continued cooler than normal temperatures remain a concern, especially in those areas where corn and soybean planting occurred one-to-two weeks later than normal.

POST – EMERGENCE HEBICIDE APPLICATION
Most producers will be applying post-emergence herbicides for weed control in corn and soybeans in the next couple of weeks. They are hoping for some rain-free days, with a minimal amount of wind, to provide for good spraying conditions. With the high amount of acres planted to “Round-up Ready” corn hybrids and soybean varieties, or similar crop genetics, a majority of the weed control in corn and soybean production is accomplished through the use of post-emergence herbicides that are applied after the crop and the weeds are emerged and growing. By comparison, 10-15 years ago, post-emergence herbicides for weed control were secondary to the use of soil-applied pre-plant and pre-emergence herbicides to control weeds before they emerged. In addition to giving crop producers better options and more flexibility for weed control, the move toward a higher percentage of post-emergence herbicides has also been more environmentally friendly. The post-emergence herbicides are generally safer to use and are much less likely to run-off into lakes, rivers, streams, or tile lines, as compared to many of older soil applied chemicals.

CRP ACRES AVAILABLE FOR HAYING
USDA has announced that eligible landowners with Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts may be able to hay or graze their CRP acres later this year, without penalty or without their 2008 CRP contract payments being reduced. This action is being taken by USDA to help livestock producers, especially cattle producers, that are facing high feed costs, and potential hay shortages in some areas. The option to take one cutting of hay or to graze CRP acreage is for 2008 only, and is not an early-out option for CRP contracts. There are approximately 24 million CRP acres, of the more than 32 million total CRP acres in the U.S., eligible for this haying and grazing program option. CRP acres in highly sensitive environmental areas, such as wetlands, buffers, and filter strips will not be eligible for haying and grazing. The haying and grazing on CRP acres must take place after primary wildlife nesting has ended, which is around August 1 in the upper Midwest, and must be completed by November 10, 2008. Haying may only take place on a maximum of 50 percent of eligible CRP acres, and grazing on 75 percent of eligible CRP acres.

As mentioned earlier, 2008 CRP contract payments will still be made as scheduled to CRP contract holders that choose to take part in the CRP haying and grazing option; however, there will be a $75.00 administrative fee per CRP contract charged by USDA for requesting the CRP haying and grazing option. This is different than past “Emergency CRP Haying and Grazing” programs following a natural disaster, when CRP contract holders were forced to give up a portion of their annual CRP contract payment in order to hay or graze the CRP acres. It is allowable for eligible CRP contract holders to lease to right to another farm operator to harvest one crop of hay or to graze the CRP acres, within the guidelines established by USDA. Landowners that are interested in the CRP haying and grazing option for 2008, should contact their County Farm Service Agency (FSA) office.

Note --- For additional information contact Kent Thiesse, Farm Management Analyst and
Vice President, MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal, MN. (Phone --- (507) 381-7960) ;
E-mail --- kent.thiesse@minnstarbank.com) Web Site --- http://www.minnstarbank.com/