Soybean Aphid Update
So far this summer, there have been no significant outbreaks of soybean aphids across Southern Minnesota. There have been some reports of aphids in soybean fields, but most are well below the threshold level for treatment. The University of Minnesota recommends an economic threshold level of 250 soybean aphids per plant before insecticide treatment is recommended. In 2003, soybean aphid numbers increased dramatically in late July and early August, which led to significant crop loss and thousands of acres being treated in Minnesota. Soybean growers are encouraged to continue monitoring fields for the next few weeks for sudden potential increases in soybean aphid counts. Growers should remember that soybean development is one to two weeks behind normal this year. They should pay especially close attention to scouting fields if we get an extended period of hot, dry weather in the next couple of weeks.

Northstar Ethanol Update
An exciting Groundbreaking Ceremony for the new Northstar Ethanol Plant, west of Lake Crystal, was held on Friday, July 30. Site work for the new Ethanol Plant began in late June. The Northstar Ethanol Plant should be completed and should begin operation by the summer of 2005. The facility is being planned and designed, and will be managed, by Broin Companies of Souix Falls, South Dakota.

Crops Making Progress
Warmer temperatures this past weekend have improved prospects for the 2004 corn and soybean crop across Southern Minnesota. However, overall temperatures in July were cooler than normal in most of the Upper Midwest, and the accumulated growing degree units (GDU’s) since May 1 continue to run 10-20 percent behind normal. Certainly, an extended period of average to above average temperatures in August would be welcome to help mature the corn and soybean crop. A 105 day relative maturity corn hybrid requires about 2530 GDU’s to reach “black layer”, or maturity. As of July 29, the U of M Southern Research and Outreach Center at Waseca had accumulated 1328 GDU’s since May 1, which means approximately 1200 GDU’s would still be required. Normally, the average accumulated GDU’s in August is 18 GDU’s per day, which drops to an average of 10 GDU’s per day in September. In some areas, there could be problems with corn reaching maturity, especially if we have an earlier than normal frost.

Many portions of Southern Minnesota have received some rainfall in latter part of July and first few days of August. However, there was also hail and strong winds reported in some areas. The rainfall should be helpful in areas that were somewhat dry in late July and on lighter soils. In areas that avoided significant crop loss from the heavy rains in June or from recent hailstorms, the potential for the 2004 corn and soybean crop still looks fairly good.

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.