Across southern Minnesota and northern Iowa, nearly all the intended corn  is planted, and over 90% of the soybeans  were planted as of May 18. Most of the corn and many of the soybeans that are planted in this region have emerged, and stands look fairly good.
However, strong winds on May 17 and 18 in southern and western Minnesota caused considerable blowing dirt, which did cause some crop damage to newly emerged corn  and soybeans . In addition, the intense thunderstorms during the first week of May caused considerable soil crusting in some areas, which has lead to emergence problems for corn and soybeans that were just planted prior to the heavy rainfall events. In the most severe locations, portions of fields were replanted due to the soil crusting, as well as due to drown-out damage in low areas of fields resulting from excess rainfall.
At the University of Minnesota Southern Research and Outreach Center at Waseca, the average air temperature in May (as of May 18) was 60.3° F, compared to a 30-year average May temperature of 58.4° F. As of May 18, the accumulation of growing degree units (GDUs) in 2012 at Waseca was 212, which is 28% above the 30-year average of 166 GDUs accumulated by May 18. Some corn was planted in mid-April, and was able to take advantage of some accumulated GDUs in late April as well, resulting in corn growth that is well ahead of normal.
The total precipitation recorded in May at Waseca, was 2.87 in., as of May 18, with nearly all of the measurable precipitation being recorded during the first six days of May. Portions of south-central and southwest Minnesota received 4-6 in. of rainfall during intense thunderstorms from May 1 to 6, which lead to the drown-out damage and soil crusting problems in some fields. The average precipitation at Waseca for the entire month of May is 3.96 in. Stored soil moisture in many areas has made a nice recovery from the depleted conditions that existed earlier this spring.
Post-Emergence Herbicide Application
Most producers will be applying post-emergence herbicides  for weed control in corn and soybeans during the next couple of weeks. They are hoping for some rain-free days, with a minimal amount of wind, to provide for good spraying conditions.
With the high amount of acres planted to Round-up Ready corn hybrids and soybean varieties, or similar crop genetics, a majority of the weed control in corn  and soybean production  is accomplished through the use of post-emergence herbicides that are applied after the crop and the weeds are emerged and growing. By comparison, 10-15 years ago, post-emergence herbicides for weed control were secondary to the use of soil-applied pre-plant and pre-emergence herbicides to control weeds before they emerged.
In addition to giving crop producers better options and more flexibility for weed control, the move toward a higher percentage of post-emergence herbicides has also been more environmentally friendly. The post-emergence herbicides are generally safer to use and are much less likely to run-off into lakes, rivers, streams or tile lines, as compared to many of older soil applied chemicals.
2012 Farm Program Sign-Up
Eligible farm operators and landowners have until June 1, 2012, to enroll in the 2012 DCP farm program at county Farm Service Agency  (FSA) offices, including the ACRE program for 2012. As of early May, only about half of the producers were enrolled in the 2012 DCP farm program in many counties. Producers must enroll in the 2012 DCP farm program in order to receive direct payments for 2012 on eligible crop base acres, as well as other program benefits.
Producers that previously enrolled in the ACRE for the 2009, 2010 or 2011 crop year will be enrolled in ACRE for 2012, provided that they sign-up for the 2012 DCP farm program at county FSA offices, and meet all other program criteria. Other farmers can enroll in ACRE for 2012 when they sign-up for the 2012 DCP farm program, or at anytime until June 1, 2012. ACRE enrollment does require a signature from landlords on cash rental farm units, and results in a 20% reduction in direct payments for 2012. Producers are encouraged to analyze situations and scenarios that are more favorable for ACRE enrollment for 2012, as compared to continuing with the traditional DCP farm program. For more information on the ACRE program or 2012 DCP farm program sign-up, producers should contact their county FSA Office, or go to the USDA FSA website .
Even though the ACRE program has not paid out in 2009 and 2010 for corn and soybeans in Minnesota, and will likely not result in an ACRE payment in 2011, producers should not automatically “write-off” ACRE program enrollment for the 2012 crop year. If the 12-month national average prices (Sept. 1, 2012 to Aug. 31, 2013) for the 2012 crop year drop below $4.20/bu. for corn, or $10.35/bu. for soybeans, the likelihood would increase to earn an ACRE payment on 2012 corn and soybeans. To receive copies of updated ACRE program information and a listing of Web Sites with good ACRE information, please contact Kent Thiesse via e-mail: [email protected] 
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]