Crop Report

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For the Monthly Report Ending September 15, 2017

GENERAL WEATHER FOR THIS AREA: In general, the weather has been conducive for crop advancement in our area over the last 30 days. Warm and dry conditions that developed in July and early August were replaced with somewhat below normal temperatures and welcomed moisture during the second half of August. These conditions have assisted in soybean pod fill and corn kernel fill as well as increased test weight potential. 

Temperatures over the last month have been slightly below average to seasonal. Daily highs fluctuated from the low 70s to the mid-80s in the past 30 days. Daily lows have ranged from 42 to 63 degrees.  The temperatures, for the most part, have been beneficial for the grain fill period as we move closer to grain maturity.  Growing Degree Days are at 2,181 units, which is 144 units behind the historic average for this time of year, which is about 7-10 days behind normal.  A further drop was due to some of the below average temperatures, but we are hopeful that the second half of September will be warm in order to allow the crop maturity to catch up.

Rainfall amounts totaling 2.9 to 5.9 inches were recorded over the last 30 days. Most of the rainfall was delivered between August 16th – 22nd.  Some of the rain was accompanied by strong winds and hail, especially in southwestern Murray County. There were even a couple tornadoes in the Nobles County area. Fortunately, most of the farms in our area were spared from damage although a few did receive some damage.  In most cases, the rainfall has been good for crop advancement.  The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) recently reported that the average topsoil moisture level is 77% and the subsoil level is listed at 81% for these same categories.  Much of this water will be available for the 2018 crop as the amount of water that the 2017 crop will use prior to reaching maturity is limited.  As of September 15th, there is 4.52 inches of available water in the top 5-foot soil profile.  This compares to a historic average of 4.21 inches. (Southwest Research and Outreach Center, Lamberton, MN).

Figure 1 – This picture taken near Rushmore shows damage to crops and the total destruction of a hog barn from the tornado on August 18th. The hog barn to the left was unharmed.

SOYBEANS: Changing color of soybean leaves can be observed in most fields, which is evident that the crop is reaching maturity and we are nearing harvest. Soybean development is near to slightly behind average according to the Minnesota Ag Statistics Service (MASS).  The organization reports that 47% of the crop is turning color and 13% of the crop is dropping leaves.  The 5-year averages are 60% and 25% respectively.  The soybean crop in Minnesota is currently rated 72% in the good to excellent category.  The rains in the second half of August have been beneficial in filling the top pods of the plants, thus increasing yield potential.  Harvest could start as early as the last few days of September on early maturity soybeans planted in April/early May or on sandy textured soils.  It appears the majority of the soybeans in our area will be harvested in early to mid-October.

Figure 2 –  This picture was taken with our drone and shows the variability in maturity within a field as we approach harvest. The yellow areas contain plants with leaves.  The reddish colored areas are where the soybeans have dropped their leaves.

CORN: As of September 10th, 71% of Minnesota’s corn crop was at or beyond the dent stage.  This compares to 88% for this time last year, and 80% for the 5-year average.  82% of the Minnesota crop is in the good to excellent category.  The late August rains are greatly assisting in completing grain fill and in turn maximizing yield potential.  A slow grain fill period is ideal.  Some of the early maturity hybrids are close to reaching full maturity (black layer) and the balance should be mature by the end of the first week of October.  As a reminder, the moisture level of the grain at maturity is roughly 30-34%.  In general, the crop will lose 0.5 to 1.0% per day, at least through the first week of October.  Corn harvest could begin when the crop dries to 26% moisture, although most likely will not occur until corn is under 20%.  Factors to take into consideration when timing harvest include the calendar date of the first killing frost, corn disease pressure, stalk strength, kernel moisture, potential harvest loss, and if field conditions are suitable.  We estimate corn harvest will begin immediately after the completion of soybean harvest.

Figure 3 – Once corn enters the dent stage as evident in this picture, it typically takes 20 days to maximize starch accumulation. The plant has reached full maturity (black layer) after maximizing starch accumulation.  

REMARKS: According to the most recent USDA Monthly Supply and Demand Report released on September 12th, the national corn production is projected at 14.2 billion bushels, down 6% from last year but up slightly from the August forecast. Based on conditions as of September 1, yields are expected to average 169.9 bushels per acre, up 0.4 bushel from the August calculations but down 4.7 bushels from 2016. If realized, this will be the third highest yield and production on record for the United States. Harvested acres are estimated at 83.5 million acres, unchanged from the August forecast but down 4 percent from 2016.   Soybean production is projected to be at a record 4.43 billion bushels, up 1% from August and up 3% from last year. Based on September 1 conditions, yields are expected to average 49.9 bushels per acre, up 0.5 bushel from last month but down 2.2 bushels from last year. Harvested acres in the United States are estimated to be a record high of 88.7 million acres, unchanged from August but up 7% from 2016 National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) – Weekly Crop Production Report).

Based on conditions as of September 1, Minnesota corn yields are expected to average 182 bushels per acre, down 1.0 bushel per acre from the August 1st projection and down 11 bushels per acre from last year. The soybean yield is estimated to be at 47.0 bushels per acre, down 2 bushels per acre from the August 1 forecast and 5.5 bushels below 2016. (Source – NASS).

Cash corn prices dipped below $3.00 per bushel and soybean prices dropped below $8.50 per bushel this past month. Corn and soybean price outlooks continue to slip with the amount of old crop (especially 2016 corn) and estimated 2017 corn and soybean quantities, but it appears that we may have set pre-harvest lows in the markets in mid- September.  We are anticipating a late harvest (not starting until end of September/early October and there could be extensive lines at elevators with delivery of old crop corn, new crop corn and soybeans, and the possibility of wet corn this fall).  We will continue to work with our tenants to coordinate harvest. Overall, we are anticipating very good yields and we will keep you posted.

Figure 4 – Sampling and measuring provides an indication of not only yield potential, but also the growth stage and variability of the corn crop.

Growing-Degree Days
Lamberton 9-11-2017 2181 -144

Corn Growing Degree Days are calculated by subtracting a 50 degree base temperature from the average of the maximum and minimum temperature for the day. The daily maximum is limited to 86 degrees and the minimum is 50 degrees.

Grain Markets (September 18, 2017)
New Vision-Windom Magnolia Poet Biorefining-Bingham Lake MnSP-Brewster
Corn 2.93 2.88 2.97 N/A
Soybeans 8.96 8.82 N/A 9.13
Corn 2.95 2.88 3.01 N/A
Soybeans 8.82 8.58 N/A 9.13
County City August 16 to September 15 March 15 to Date-2017 March 15 to Date-2016
Cottonwood Jeffers 3.88 20.62 27.63
Cottonwood Windom 4.08 19.93 25.63
Jackson Heron Lake 2.90 21.26 21.19
Jackson Jackson 5.87 23.99 29.24
Martin Trimont 3.28 19.66 30.04
Murray Fulda 3.87 24.17 23.07
Murray Slayton 3.39 21.51 21.98
Nobles Round Lake 5.94 23.01 28.00
Nobles Rushmore 5.22 24.51 28.42
Redwood Redwood Falls 5.65 25.76 29.32
Rock Magnolia 4.93 20.38 26.73
Steven J. Hiniker
Farm Management Advisor
Real Estate Salesperson



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