Welcome Rainfall

If there ever was such a thing as a just-in-time rainfall, it was probably the rain that fell across the southern third of Minnesota and northern parts of Iowa on August 1-2. Many of these areas were getting critically short of soil moisture and crops were starting to show some stress, especially after the extremely hot temperatures in late July. Most of the previously mentioned region received 2-4 in. or more of rainfall on August 1 and 2; however, rainfall amounts dropped off north and west of this region. Many areas of West Central and Northwest Minnesota got very little rainfall, and drought conditions continue to persist. The rainfall did come with some severe storms. Tornadoes touched down in Watonwan County causing significant damage to a handful of farm sites, and strong winds reaching over 80 mph flattened thousands of acres of corn in Jackson County, as well as across the border in Northwest Iowa.

The early August rainfall will be very beneficial to most of the corn and soybeans in southern Minnesota. It should assist with good “ear-fill” on the corn, and should add more pods and yield potential to the soybeans. Crop progress for corn and soybeans continues to be well ahead of normal crop development for early August, with the growing degree units (GDUs) across the region running about 10-15% ahead of normal. It is too early to tell if 2006 corn and soybean yields will approach the levels of the record crop yields that were achieved in many areas of southern Minnesota in 2005. For growers in central and northern parts of Minnesota, they need to hope for some August rainfall to salvage what remains of their 2006 corn and soybean crop.

Most soybean producers in south central Minnesota applied insecticides to control soybean aphids in late July and the first few days of August, after aphid counts increased significantly across the region in late July. The cost of custom-applied treatment for soybean aphids was approximately $11-15/acre, or the value of 2-3 bu. of soybeans. Growers that applied their own insecticide probably had a slightly lower application cost.

Crop Report On August 11
Farm operators are reminded that the major USDA August Crop Report comes out on Friday, August 11. It is good to review current corn and soybean market positions for the 2006 crop, as well as for any remaining 2005 grain inventory, prior to the USDA Crop Report. The August Report will probably guide market trends for the next few months, until we have some actual 2006 corn and soybean yield results. Corn and soybean markets opened down sharply on August 7, probably reflecting some recent rainfall in many areas of the Midwest. Any producers that still have 2005 corn under CCC loan with the Farm Service Agency (FSA) will also want to pay close attention prior to the Crop Report. The Posted County Price (PCP) on August 7 in Minnesota was just above the County Loan Rate, but the PCP could easily go below County Loan Rates if the corn market declines in the coming days. This may offer a good incentive to release the corn under CCC loan, especially on CCC loans that mature in August or September.

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.