Growing conditions for corn  and soybeans  are quite variable across Minnesota. In the southern quarter of the state most of the corn and soybeans were planted on a fairly timely basis, with some of the early planted corn now at 18-24 in. tall, but most corn being somewhat smaller. There are many portions of southwest and south-central Minnesota that have standing water in portions of fields from excessive rainfall amounts of 4-6 in. or more from June 13 to 19, with more heavy rains likely. Some replanting will be required in portions of fields, if fields dry out on a timely basis.
In central Minnesota, a considerable amount of corn and soybeans were planted in early June, and have just emerged, leaving the crop development well behind normal. There are also still some isolated areas where soybean planting has not yet been completed. This region has continued to receive some excessive rainfall, which has caused some minor flooding in portions of fields, and has delayed the completion of soybean planting in some locations. Close to maximum levels of stored soil moisture exist in most areas of southern and central Minnesota, so any major rainfall events can quickly result in large amount of standing water in crop fields.
As a whole, most of the corn and soybean crop across southern Minnesota and northern Iowa are probably only one week or less behind normal development; however, that increases to two-three weeks or more in most of central Minnesota. This slow pace of crop development is primarily due to much later-than-normal planting dates in many areas. At the University of Minnesota Research and Outreach Center  at Waseca, the accumulated growing degree units (GDUs) from May 1 to June 17 was 605, which is just below the average GDU accumulation of 617 on June 17, and only about 3% lower than the GDU accumulation on June 17, 2010.
The GDU accumulation has made considerable improvement in recent weeks, following a rather cool start to the growing season. Most growers are hoping for both drier weather and continued warmer temperatures in the coming weeks to improve crop-growing conditions, and to allow for timely applications of postemergence herbicides  for weed control.
Erratic Crop Prices
Corn and soybean prices have been quite erratic this spring, due to tight supplies, strong export demand and variable weather conditions across the country. Nearby corn futures prices on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) dropped nearly $1/bu. during the week of June 13-17, while nearby soybean futures prices dropped by nearly 60¢/bu. Local cash prices and new-crop prices at grain elevators and grain-processing plants dropped by similar amounts. Both the futures market and cash prices rose considerably during May and early June due to the tight grain supplies and major weather issues across the U.S. Crop conditions have improved in many areas in recent weeks, especially the major corn-growing states of Iowa, Illinois and Nebraska. There is also concern that the struggling U.S. and world economy could impact export demand in the coming months.
The current break in prices may be a signal for producers with 2010 corn and soybeans in storage that is not priced to sell the remaining grain inventories. Much of the 2010 grain that is now being delivered to grain elevators and processing plants was priced in 2010, or earlier this year, at well below the current price levels. Many producers are also taking advantage of the current strong grain prices to lock in a market price on a portion of their anticipated 2011 crop production. However, this becomes more difficult in areas with extreme planting delays and more questionable 2011 crop yields.
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 [email protected]