Northstar Ethanol Plant
The proposed Northstar Ethanol Plant, which will be located about two miles west of Lake Crystal, MN, is getting closer to reality. Both the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and Blue Earth County are in the final stages of the permitting and zoning process. MPCA held a public information meeting in Lake Crystal on May 18.

Various MPCA staff reviewed the Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) for the proposed ethanol plant. They also reviewed state and federal permit requirements for air quality, water discharge, storm water runoff, and above ground storage tanks that are required before the project is approved. Highlighted provisions related to noise and the steam emissions from the proposed ethanol plant were also reviewed.

MPCA staff said the EAW and permit applications submitted by Northstar Ethanol, LLC, appear to have met all regulations and requirements.

Enough Rain
As typically happens in the spring in Minnesota, there is “fine line” between too little rain and too much rain. Many portions of South Central Minnesota have now about reached the point of “too much rain”, after receiving 3-4 inches of rain, or more, during the week of May 17-24.

Rainfall amounts were quite variable, and generally were less in northern parts of the region. There has been enough precipitation to replenish some of the stored soil moisture reserves in the areas with higher amounts of rainfall, which should be beneficial later in the growing season.

The higher rainfall amounts have also lead to some standing water in fields, especially in extreme Southern Minnesota, and across the border in Iowa, where severe storms brought several inches of rain in a short period of time.

Some crop replanting will likely be necessary in portions of this area, due to the excess rain and hail damage. Most farmers would now welcome an extended period of weather that is warmer and drier than normal for a couple of weeks to enhance crop development and allow for timely application of post-emergence herbicides.

There are also isolated corn and soybean fields that will require replanting from the frost damage that occurred on May 15 across much of the region. Most corn and soybean fields should recover from the frost damage, once we get more favorable growing conditions. The most severe frost damage was on field edges, in peat soils, and in the river bottoms.

Producers with reduced stand counts from frost, hail, or excess rain should contact their crop consultant or agronomist to assist with replant decisions. If replanting is necessary, producers need to contact their Crop Insurance Agent regarding replant provisions in their insurance policies.

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.