Cool Weather Concerns
The first two weeks of August have been among the coolest on record in many areas of the Upper Midwest. This follows cooler than normal temperatures throughout most of the growing season, and has created serious crop maturity concerns. We had three cooler than normal years in the 1990s. The GDU accumulation at Waseca from May 1 to August 10 was 1,512 in 1993, 1,539 in 1992, and 1,546 in 1996. This year, we had 1,558 GDUs on August 11. Farm operators may want to check harvest dates and reflect back to 1992 and 1996 for some indicators as to the type of fall harvest season that appears to be developing. Corn producers probably also want to prepare for more corn drying and higher drying costs in 2004, as compared to recent years. Producers in most areas of Minnesota will probably need a frost-free September in order for corn and soybeans to reach physiological maturity without yield reductions.

Large Corn Estimate
The USDA Crop Report issued on August 12 came in with a much larger than expected crop production estimate for the 2004 corn and soybean crop in the United States. USDA estimated the 2004 corn crop at a record 10.923 billion bushels, which is up from 10.6 billion bushels in July. The August estimate is considerably higher than most private analysts estimated. USDA is projecting a national average corn yield of 148.9 bushels per acre, which is 6.7 bushels per acre higher than in 2003. Large yield and production increases were estimated for Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Nebraska. Certainly, the continued cool weather pattern in the Upper Midwest, and the potential for an early frost before the corn matures, could reduce corn yields and temper future USDA corn production estimates. The large corn estimate has had an impact on corn prices on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) and local market bids.

Soybean Report
The USDA Soybean Report on August 12 was actually down slightly from the July crop production estimate. USDA now projects the 2004 U.S. soybean crop at 2.877 billion bushels. However, soybean projections for 2004 are higher that total soybean production in 2003, with large yield increases projected in most major producing states. The cool weather and frost concerns in the Upper Midwest are also a major concern with soybeans. The crop concerns combined with fairly tight inventory of soybean stocks nationwide and the latest USDA report have helped stabilize and even increase new crop soybean prices.

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.