TOO MUCH RAIN!
It’s hard to believe that in Mid-May, we were quite concerned about the dry weather pattern that persisted into spring planting season, and the potential for a drought in the 2004 growing season. What a change since then! Since May 20, there was measurable precipitation on 20 of 26 days from May 20 through June 14 at the U of M Southern Research and Outreach Center at Waseca. The total precipitation recorded at the Center in June (through June 14) was 5.79 inches, which is already well above the 30 year average of 4.22 inches of rainfall for the entire month of June. The total precipitation at the Waseca Research Center in May was 5.61 inches, which was also well above the long-term average of 3.96 inches.

Most of the June rainfall in Southern Minnesota occurred from June 8-14, with the heaviest rainfall occurring in the Mankato area on June 8-9, with 24 hour total rainfall of 6-9 inches. Most of South Central and Southeast Minnesota, and adjoining areas of Northern Iowa, received considerable rainfall during the second week of June from the numerous heavy thunderstorms that have continually moved through the area. Total rainfall amounts during that period of 5-8 inches were quite common, with some isolated amounts of 10 inches of rain or more.

Soils are totally saturated, rivers and streams are full, and there is no place for the excess water to go. The result is standing water in numerous fields that will likely result in crop loss in many areas. The severity of the crop loss is dependent on the amount of rain received at a given time, the ability of tile and drainage systems to remove the standing water in a timely manner, and the follow-up weather patterns. The areas that avoided the extremely high amounts of rain during storms and had pretty good drainage capabilities probably got by with minimal crop loss. However, other areas that had very high amounts of rainfall on June 8-9, and were hit with additional heavy rains in the following days, will likely have much more significant crop loss. There has also been crop loss due to hail damage in some areas.

In mid-June, replanting drown-out spots to early soybeans is about the only option that crop producers in Southern Minnesota have. The yield potential for soybeans planted June 15-20 in this region is probably about 30-35 bushels per acre compared to a normal yield potential of 45-50 bushels per acre. The yield potential for late planted soybeans drops even further, if replanting is delayed beyond June 20. Growers that are replanting soybeans in fields that were previously planted to corn need to be aware of herbicide applications applied to the corn that could impact the soybeans.

CROP INSURANCE CONSIDERATIONS
Crop producers that carry Federal Crop Insurance and need to replant some acres that were drowned out need to be aware of replant provisions in their crop insurance policies. Some of the crop insurance replant provisions are rather complex, especially when switching from corn to soybeans. There are also planting date deadlines when replanting is or is not required. Replanting the crop on a farm may not be the best option in all situations, depending on the date of planting and the type of crop insurance policy that is in place for 2004. Producers should contact their Crop Insurance Agent and inquire about all options before finalizing crop replant decisions.

OTHER CROP CONCERNS
The prolonged saturated soil conditions in many parts of Southern Minnesota have led to concerns regarding nitrogen loss in the soils, which could lead to nitrogen deficiency for the corn crop. Crop experts, and research results, suggest that conditions have been prime for nitrogen loss in 2004. Corn producers should check their fields, and consult their agronomist or crop consultant regarding nitrogen loss and the need to apply supplemental nitrogen to growing corn. The continued rainfall and wet fields have made timely applications of post-emergence herbicides to control weeds in corn and soybeans very difficult. In some situations, growers may be forced to switch their choice of herbicides due to potential crop injury, and in order to provide effective weed control. The continual rainfall has also made it difficult for dairy producers to harvest high quality alfalfa from the first alfalfa cutting, which is very dependent on proper timing of the alfalfa cutting. One piece of good news for area corn and soybean production in the past couple of weeks has been some warmer temperatures, which has allowed some improvement in the crops not impacted by the severe storms and heavy rainfall.

SOIL EROSION
The severe storms and heavy rainfall amounts have also caused significant soil erosion in some areas. This has ranged extreme gullies in fields, to eroded hillsides, to massive sheet erosion on more gently sloping fields. The result has been large topsoil deposits in low areas of fields, and near rivers, streams, and tile inlets. The recent storms are another reminder why we need continued emphasis and funding at the Federal and State level for soil conservation initiatives and programs. Next week’s “Focus On Ag” Column will have more details on the CSP Program.

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.