Rain Halts Harvest
Heavy rainfall and wet, cloudy weather during the week of October 15-21 has created serious corn and soybean harvest concerns in many areas of Minnesota. Very little progress was made on the 2007 corn and soybean harvest during the past week in most areas of the state. Fortunately, the 6-10-day weather forecast on October 22 looks to be a bit drier, with more sunshine, which should be favorable to resume corn and soybean harvest in many areas. Harvest progress varies greatly throughout the region. In some areas of south-central and southwest Minnesota, soybean harvest was completed by late September, before the very wet weather of October occurred. However, in many portions of southeast Minnesota, there is a large percentage of soybeans remaining to be harvested. Very little corn has been harvested in the wettest areas of southern Minnesota, while one-third to two-thirds of the corn is harvested in other areas.

As we progress toward November, the harvest delays, especially for un-harvested soybeans, become a much larger concern. The probability of higher field loss to the mature, un-harvested soybeans increases greatly later in the harvest season. There is also some concern with un-harvested corn in fields that are susceptible to stalk breakage, due to stalk diseases and root damage. The wet field conditions are also delaying fall tillage, as well as fall manure and fertilizer applications. There is particular concern for livestock producers with liquid manure storage facilities that are reaching capacity, who were relying on the month of October to apply liquid manure to fields, following corn and soybean harvest. Most hog producers empty their liquid manure storage facilities annually in the fall so the manure can be properly injected into the soil to capture full fertilizer value, and to reduce the potential for nutrient runoff.

Corn Storage Issues
Corn storage availability does not appear to be as large of an issue at grain elevators this fall as it has been in recent years. High demand for corn usage and lower grain carryover stocks has probably freed-up more commercial grain storage for the 2007 corn crop. However, there are still localized situations of very tight grain storage, and some grain elevators have become more restrictive on grain storage options for producers. As a result, some producers may be relying on temporary grain storage in machine sheds, older grain bins, outdoor cement slabs, etc., to temporarily store corn that will be fed or sold at a later date. Producers need to make sure that older structures are properly built and maintained to adequately handle corn storage. They also need to plan for proper aeration of any corn on the farm that will be placed in temporary storage for more than a few days to avoid significant storage losses. The dollar loss from corn storage problems can be significant if storage problems are not properly addressed in a timely fashion and the corn is damaged prior to sale.

Soybean Rust in Iowa
According to the USDA Asian Soybean Rust Web site, as of October 18, soybean rust has now been identified in soybean fields in 11 Iowa counties in 2007, mostly in southern Iowa. However, soybean rust was identified in Hancock County, which is in north-central Iowa. Most of the soybean rust was identified very late in the 2007 growing season, after the soybeans had reached maturity, or were close to maturity, so there was virtually no impact on 2007 soybean yields. While the rapid increase in soybean rust identification in the upper Midwest late in the 2007 growing season is a concern to soybean growers, there is no reason to conclude that there will be any increased problems with soybean rust in the Midwest for the 2008 soybean crop. This is because the soybean rust spores normally do not survive the winter conditions in the upper Midwest, and the movement of the soybean rust spores during the growing season seems to correlate closely to existing weather conditions.

Farm Safety
Producers are reminded to keep farm safety in mind for their families, their employees and themselves as they hurry to finish the 2007 harvest season. Late fall is a key time for farm accidents, due to the shorter day length, and the extra stress of trying to finish up fall field work before winter weather conditions arrive. The general public also needs to take extra caution around slow-moving farm machinery and trucks when driving on state and county highways during the late-fall harvest season in farm-country, especially early in the morning and in the late afternoon. A little extra caution can go a long way during the fall season toward preventing a tragic farm accident, or a serious traffic accident on rural highways.

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.