FROST DAMAGE
The daily low temperatures have dropped to near or below freezing a couple of times during the week of May 10-15 in South Central Minnesota. There have been some reports of frost damage to newly emerged corn fields, especially on low lying areas of fields with peat soils. Most of the corn should have a good chance for recovery, since the growing point on the corn is still below the soil surface and was likely not damaged by the frost. It is a good idea to make some good stand counts, based on corn plant recovery, before making a replant decision. Some loss of stand can certainly be tolerated, with a very minimal impact on yield. The yield reduction from a planting the corn in late May could be greater than any yield loss from minor stand reduction. Most of the soybeans that were emerged were still in the cotyledon stage and appear to have avoided serious frost damage. However, any soybean fields that were in the unifoliate or first trifoliate stage of development may have incurred greater frost damage. Good field scouting by producers and crop consultants or agronomists is the best way to evaluate potential frost damage.

SOYBEAN REFERENDUM
Soybean producers have until May 28, 2004, to obtain and submit Form LS 51-1 to their County Farm Service Agency (FSA) Office in order to request a referendum on the Soybean Promotion and Research Order. Only producers that want to request a referendum vote need to request this Form from FSA Office. Producers that are satisfied with the current Soybean Promotion and Research Order do not need to take any action. A National referendum vote will be held at a later date, if 10% or more of the Nation’s 663,880 soybean producers submit the request form to County FSA Offices by May 28. Otherwise, the Soybean Promotion and Research Order will continue as it currently exists. The Soybean Research and Promotion Order authorizes the mandatory soybean checkoff program that generates funds for promotion, research and educational programs provided by the American Soybean Association and the various State Soybean Councils.

USDA FARM PROGRAM PAYMENTS
Since the last U.S. Farm Bill was passed in 2002, there has been much criticism of the U.S. government spending too much to subsidize agriculture producers. The outlay by USDA for farm program payments is actually expected to drop significantly in the next couple years. The projected total dollars to be spent is $13.9 billion in 2004 and $13.8 billion in 2005. This follows $15.7 billion in 2002 and $17.4 billion in 2003, and is well below the over $19 billion per year that was estimated when the 2002 Farm Bill was passed.

Editors 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.