Above-normal temperatures during most of the month of September in southern Minnesota, have allowed the 2008 corn and soybean crops to either reach maturity, or be very close to maturity. Many of the early planted corn hybrids have now reached physiological maturity, while some later-planted corn may need another week or so to reach maturity. Many soybeans are now turning color and dropping leaves, with some early varieties now being harvested. Full-scale soybean harvest should begin around Oct. 1 in many portions of southern Minnesota. Areas of the state that incurred later planting dates will require one to two weeks, or longer, without a killing frost in order for crops to reach maturity.

The U of M Southern Research and Outreach Center at Waseca had accumulated a total 300 growing degree units (GDUs) from Sept. 1 through Sept. 22, 2008. The normal GDU accumulation for the entire month of September at Waseca is 322 GDUs. The total GDU accumulation at Waseca from May 1 through Sept. 22 is 2,309 GDUs – about 4% below the normal GDU accumulation of 2,393. Prior to September, GDU accumulation since May 1 for the 2008 growing season had been running 5% or more behind normal. This significant improvement in GDU accumulation during September has greatly reduced the potential impacts of a killing frost to the 2008 corn and soybean crop in most areas of southern Minnesota.

Rainfall totals in most of southern Minnesota have been well below normal during August and September. Total rainfall at Waseca in September was only .90 in., as of Sept. 22. Normal rainfall for the entire month of September is 3.19 in. The total rainfall at Waseca in August was 2.18 in., compared to a normal of 4.58 in. Total precipitation for 2008 is now close to 4 in. below normal. Total 2008 rainfall at the U of M Southwest Research and Outreach Center at Lamberton is over 5 in. behind normal. Stored soil moisture at Lamberton on Sept. 15, in the top 5 ft. of the soil profile was very close to normal; however, the top 2 ft. of the soil profile were extremely dry.

Safe Harvest Season
National Farm Safety and Health Week is Sept. 21-27, 2008. As we approach fall harvest season for the 2008 growing season, this observance serves as a good reminder for farm families to review the farm safety procedures in their farm operation. More farm accidents occur during the Fall than at any other time of the year, and usually involve farm family members. Special care should be taken with children and senior citizens around farm and grain handling equipment, as these groups are the most vulnerable to farm accidents.

Interestingly, 51% of all farm accident deaths involve farm tractors, with rollovers being the most common type of tractor accident. Farm buildings and structures account for 11% of farm accident deaths, usually involving grain bin suffocation or being overcome by silo gas. Other primary causes of farm accidents include combines, haying equipment, farm trucks, augers, PTO drives, skid loaders, overhead electric wires and farm animals.

The non-farm public also needs to pay extra attention when driving on rural roads during harvest season, especially before and after work or school. Farm vehicles are larger and move much slower than cars, and the Autumn sun is usually in a poor position during the times of heaviest traffic in the mornings and late afternoon on rural roads throughout the fall season. The best advice is to slow down, pay attention and stay off cell phones while driving.

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.