CROP PRICES CONTINUE STRONG

Market prices for corn and soybeans have continued to be quite strong in recent weeks, mainly due to good grain demand, and crop development problems in some segments of the Corn Belt. Illinois and parts of Michigan and Indiana are suffering from a very dry weather pattern that is bordering on a drought, while parts of the Northern Corn Belt, including some areas of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the Dakotas, are facing reduced yields from late planting and too much rain. The ever-increasing dry weather area in the heart of the Corn Belt, combined with very warm temperatures in mid-to-late June, is the primary factor driving the corn and soybean markets higher. The soybean markets have been more responsive to the dry weather pattern than corn due to a much tighter supply of soybean stocks in the U.S. than corn stocks.

It is probably a good time for producers to consider selling any remaining 2004 corn and soybeans that are in storage and to look at locking-in a market price on some of their 2005 crop. Market prices for corn and soybeans are dropping from July 1 to harvest is about 75 to 80%.

KNEE – HIGH BY JULY 4TH
For generations, the standard measure for corn growth was knee-high by July 4, which meant that the corn plant should be able to produce a crop for that year. Of course, most farmers a generation or two ago had much lower yield goals for their corn than the farmers of today. In recent years, waist-high or higher corn by July 4 has been more typical, and has resulted in some very good corn yields in most areas in the past three years. It would be difficult to get exceptional corn yields in Southern Minnesota if corn is only knee-high or smaller on July 4. A majority of corn in Southern Minnesota will exceed waist-high by July 4, and the 2005 corn crop is well ahead of the corn development in late June and early July of 2004, mainly due to the above normal temperatures and accumulation of growing degree units (GDU’s) during June. There are some areas of Central and Northern Minnesota where corn will likely barely make knee-high by July 4 this year, due to late planting and very wet weather. Except for areas that have been impacted by hail, strong winds, and heavy rains, associated with severe storms in June, most of the 2005 corn crop in Southern Minnesota looks “good to excellent” as we head into July. Adequate moisture and the rapid accumulation of GDU’s during June have allowed for significant improvement in the potential of this years corn crop in many areas.

One disadvantage of the warm, wet weather pattern during most of June is that it has made timely applications of postemergence herbicides difficult, due to wet field conditions and fast growing weeds. The weather pattern in June has also made it difficult to harvest high quality alfalfa, and has made for challenges in the harvest of canning peas in Southern Minnesota. Early pea yields are being reported somewhat below average.

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.