Crop conditions across most of Minnesota and much the Midwest have been quite favorable through the first half of the growing season. In addition to Minnesota, crop conditions have also been highly favorable in the important corn and soybean production states of Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota. Crop conditions in a large segment of the southern Corn Belt have been much less favorable during most of the growing season, due to the significant amount of late and prevented planting, along with excessive rainfall in many areas during June and early July. States such as Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, and Southern Illinois are experiencing some of the worst growing conditions in recent years.
As of July 15, a total of 1,140 growing degree units (GDUs) had been accumulated since May 1 at the U of M Southern Research Center at Waseca, Minnesota, which is about 4% behind normal for that date. The GDU accumulation at Waseca has consistently been about 2-5% below normal since early June; however, this does not account for some growing degree unit accumulation in late April, which benefitted some of the early-planted corn. Crop development in southern Minnesota is ahead of 2013, when late planting and excessive rainfall early in the growing season slowed crop development.
A majority of the corn in Southern and Western Minnesota in 2015 was planted in the last two weeks of April or first week of May, which is about 1-2 weeks ahead of normal planting dates. Crop development in most of Minnesota and adjoining areas in neighboring States has been about normal since early June. Long-range weather forecasts continue to call for near normal temperatures for the upper Midwest for the next 30 days, which should be conducive for enhancing crop development. The earlier than normal planting dates, together with the very ideal growing conditions, means that normal weather patterns in the next two months should help assure that the 2015 corn and soybean crop in most of the Upper Midwest will properly reach maturity.
Corn takes approximately 60 days from the time of tasseling and pollination 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 earlier planted corn in southern Minnesota tasseled and pollinated from July 10-20, and should adequately mature in 2015, assuming fairly normal GDU accumulation in late July and August, and a normal date for the first killing frost. Some of the later-planted corn in central Minnesota and other areas, which is tasseling later July could have some challenges being fully black-layered by the first frost, especially if the first killing frost is earlier than normal. If favorable growing conditions continue, corn will also likely have lower moisture content at harvest this fall, which will decrease drying costs.
The USDA weekly crop progress report released on July 14 listed 69% of the nation’s corn crop as good/excellent; however, there is a big difference across the major corn producing states. In Minnesota, 85% of the corn was rated good/excellent, along with 82% in Iowa, 73% in Nebraska, and 77% in South Dakota. By comparison, the good/excellent corn rating in Indiana was only 46%, along with 41% in Ohio, 52% in Missouri, and 56% in Illinois. In the four states with the poorer corn ratings, the poor/very poor corn ratings were 16% in Illinois and Missouri to 25% in Indiana, and 22% in Ohio. The poor/very poor rating in Minnesota was only 2%, and was less than 5% in most northern Corn Belt states.
Similarly, the soybean ratings in the July 14 USDA weekly crop progress report showed Minnesota and Iowa with a 78 percent good/excellent rating, with South Dakota at a 76%, and Nebraska at a 71% rating. By comparison, the good/excellent soybean ratings in Indiana and Ohio were 42%, Illinois at 48% and Missouri at only 32%. All of the last four states showed 20% or more of the soybeans in the poor/very poor category for crop condition.