First CSP Contract
The first-ever “ceremonial” contract for the new Conservation Security Program (CSP) was recently signed by Jim Moseley, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, at the Jim and Peggy Pahl Farm, west of Vernon Center, MN. The first-ever CSP sign-up was available in 18 watersheds nationwide, including the Blue Earth River watershed in South Central Minnesota. Nationally, more than 2,200 farm operators have signed up for the initial CSP Program, which will involve approximately 1.9 million acres with CSP crop management. Under the CSP Program, farm operators receive annual per acre payments on crop acres that are farmed according to specified conservation practices that reduce soil erosion and enhance water quality. In 2005 and 2006, USDA plans to expand the number of watersheds and producers that are eligible for CSP enrollment. For more details on the CSP program, producers should contact their county NRCS office.

Continued Cool Temperatures
The much cooler than normal weather pattern this summer has continued into August, though temperatures in the past week have been somewhat warmer than in early August. A 90-year record low temperature of 37 degrees was set on August 21 at the U of M Research and Outreach Center at Waseca, Minnesota. Of course, that is the morning that minor to severe frost damage occurred across many areas in the Northern Corn Belt. The previous record low temperature on August 21 at Waseca was 41 degrees in 1925. As of August 26, the accumulated growing degree units (GDU’s) at Waseca since May 1 stood at 1753 GDU’s, which is lower than the very cool Summers of 1992 and 1993. The GDU accumulation at Waseca is currently 13 percent below normal for late August. Many areas of Central and Northern Minnesota are 20-30 percent behind normal on GDU accumulation for late August. In much of Minnesota, there is a need to average 20-25 GDU’s per day in September, without a killing frost, for the 100-105 day corn to reach maturity. The normal average GDU accumulation per day in September is 10 GDU. Not a good scenario in most of Minnesota, Northern Iowa, Wisconsin, and the Dakotas!

Frost Damage Information
Farm operators that have incurred frost damage to their crops should contact their crop insurance agent to report the loss. Most likely, the final crop loss will not be determined until the entire field or farm has been harvested. Growers with CRC and RA insurance policies should be aware that the yield threshold where indemnity payments begin has probably increased, due to the reduction in market prices in corn and soybeans since the March 15 sign-up deadline for crop insurance.

The University of Minnesota Extension Service has a Web site to assist crop producers with decisions related to the frost damage to crops. The Web site is at: www.extension.umn.edu/frostdamage.

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.