Dry Weather Concerns

We are currently experiencing one of the longest periods of hot, dry weather that we’ve had for several years in the upper Midwest. High temperatures in many areas have exceeded 90 degrees for several consecutive days, and night time temperatures have remained near 70 degrees or higher. While these temperatures can be beneficial for rapid crop development, they can also be quite detrimental in areas of limited rainfall and shortages of topsoil moisture. Many portions of Minnesota and Northern Iowa have received an inch or less total rainfall since mid-June. Fortunately, stored soil moisture amounts have been above normal in most areas, which has helped maintain crop development, especially on the heavier soil types.

The corn crop is currently in the tasseling and pollination stage in many areas, which is very critical for determining final yield potential for the 2006 corn crop. Any corn that is under significant moisture or heat stress during this period will likely have reduced yield potential. The negative impact on the corn is greatest on the light, sandy soil types; however, even corn on heavier soils can be significantly impacted during extended periods of extreme heat and very little rainfall.

Crop development in most areas is about one to two weeks ahead of normal, as the accumulation of growing degree units since late April is running 10-15% ahead of normal. Rainfall would also be very beneficial to soybeans; however, the timing window for the rainfall to minimize the negative impact on yield potential is probably a bit wider than with corn. One positive of the very hot weather has been a slowdown in the development of soybean aphids. So far, aphids are being reported in soybean fields across Southern Minnesota, but for the most part they have been well below the threshold levels for insecticide treatment. Costs to treat for soybean aphids would likely be about $10-15/acre.

U.S. House Ag Committee Hearing

The U.S. House Agriculture Committee will be holding a Public Field Hearing to gain input regarding ag policy issues on Saturday, July 22, at 9 a.m., in the Conference Center Ballroom at Southwest State University in Marshall, MN. This hearing is for the full U.S. House Agriculture Committee, and will focus on a review of current Federal farm policy, as well as provide an opportunity for comments on policy proposals for the next Farm Bill. The current Farm Bill and farm commodity programs will expire in 2007. Congressman Collin Peterson from Minnesota’s 7th District is the ranking Democrat on the U.S. House Agriculture Committee, and First District Congressman Gil Gutknecht is one of the highest ranking Republicans on the Ag Committee.

Farmfest Candidate Forums

The “U.S. Senate Candidate’s Forum on Agriculture and Rural Issues” is the feature forum at FARMFEST on Tuesday, August 1, at 10:30 a.m. Both Mark Kennedy and Amy Klobuchar, the major candidates for U.S. Senate in Minnesota, have agreed to participate in the forum. A panel of agriculture reporters for radio and newspaper will pose questions to the U.S. Senate Candidates on a variety of issues affecting agriculture and rural communities.

The "Congressional Candidate’s Forum On Agriculture and Rural Issues" is the title of the afternoon FARMFEST Forum on Tuesday, August 1, at 1:30 p.m. All Congressional candidates from Minnesota’s 1st, 2nd, 6th, 7th and 8th Congressional Districts have been invited to participate in the forum, and several have already committed to participate. Questions on a wide range of agriculture policy and rural issues will be asked by a panel of agriculture leaders from various agriculture organizations and commodity groups.

Following are the broad issue topics that the U.S. Senate and Congressional Candidate’s Forums will focus on:

· Enhancing Commodity Provisions in a New Farm Bill. (DCP, LDP’s, Payment Limits, etc.)

· Conservation and Rural Development Provisions for a New Farm Bill. (CRP, CSP, etc.)

· Designing Effective Crop Insurance Programs, and the Need for Disaster Assistance.

· WTO Negotiations, NAFTA, CAFTA and Other Trade Agreements. (Beef Exports to Japan.)

· Future U.S. Energy Policy and Enhancement of the Renewable Fuels Industry.

· The Increasing Federal Budget Deficit vs. The Need For Spending On Federal Programs.

· Homeland Security Issues That Affect Agriculture and Rural Communities.

· Future Development of Biotechnology in the Agriculture Industry.

· The Impact of Federal Environmental Regulations on Production Agriculture.

· Revisions Needed in Current Rural and Agriculture Policy.

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.