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Corn and Soybean Crops Progressing Rapidly


Crop conditions across the Midwest vary in early August, depending on planting date, as well as impacts from heavy rainfall and severe storms in June and July. Overall, across southern Minnesota, a large percentage of corn and soybeans are in good to excellent condition; however, excessive rainfall, along with wind and hail, in some locations could reduce 2011 yield potential. The combination of adequate soil moisture, together with above-normal temperatures during July, has helped the 2011 corn and soybean crop make up for later-than-normal planting dates in many areas, which should help improve the 2011 yield prospects.

July 2011 was ranked as one of the warmest Julys on record in many areas of Minnesota. As of July 28, a total of 1,537 GDUs had been reported since May 1 at the U of M Southern Research and Outreach Center at Waseca, which is about 6%, or four days, ahead normal for July 28. On July 1, the 2011 GDU accumulation at Waseca was 869, which was about 20 GDUs behind normal, while on June 1 the GDU accumulation was approximately 40 GDUs behind normal. Total precipitation for the month at Waseca as of July 28, was 7.13 in., compared to a normal total July precipitation total of 4.47 in. The adequate and frequent rainfall events have helped the crop avoid significant stress from the very warm temperatures that have existed throughout most of July.

Interestingly, a total of 1,505 GDUs had been accumulated at Waseca by July 28, 2010, so 2011 GDU accumulation is actually ahead of the 2010 rate. Of course most corn and soybeans in southern Minnesota were planted two to three weeks earlier in 2010, as compared to 2011. A majority of the corn and soybeans in the region were planted seven to 10 days later than normal in 2011, so the warm temperatures in July have helped the crops make up for the late planting. As a result, most corn and soybeans are now near normal development for early August. Crops are further behind in some areas of central Minnesota that had later planting dates and have had higher incidences of heavy rains and severe weather during June and July.

Corn takes about 60 days from the time of tasseling until the corn kernels reach physiological maturity (black-layer), with normal accumulation of GDUs. Once the corn kernel is black-layered, it is usually free of significant damage from a killing frost. Much of the corn in southern Minnesota tasseled and pollinated from July 10 to 20, and should adequately mature in 2011, assuming fairly normal GDU accumulation in August and early September – and a normal date for the first killing frost. Some of the later-planted corn in central Minnesota, which did not tassel until late July or early August could have some challenges being fully black-layered by the first frost, especially if temperatures turn cooler or if the first killing frost is earlier than normal.

Many growers in Southern Minnesota have been spraying for soybean aphids in the past couple of weeks. Soybean aphid populations have been on the rise in recent weeks in many areas. With the current high commodity prices for soybeans, the economic threshold level for applying soybean aphid treatments is quite low.


Heat Stress on Livestock

The near-record temperatures and high humidity during mid-July caused considerable heat stress on livestock, with many reports of significant animal losses to cattle, hogs and poultry in some areas. The heat also led to reduced weight gains in market livestock, reduced mild and egg production, and lower production in breeding herds.

Producers who lost livestock from the July heat might qualify for the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) through the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA), which may provide some partial compensation for the financial losses that were incurred. Losses must be filed at the County FSA offices within 30 days of the date(s) that the losses occurred, and losses must be verified by a third party not directly associated with the farm operation. For more information on the LIP program producers should contact their county FSA office or download the following LIP Fact Sheet (pdf).


Editor’s 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

TAGS: Soybean Corn
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