Many areas of southern Minnesota received some much-needed rainfall this past weekend, July 31 through Aug. 2. Rainfall amounts were highly variable, with most areas receiving less than an inch total. However, many parts of the region were becoming critically dry, so any rainfall was welcome during this very important stage of crop development for the 2009 corn and soybean crop.
Many portions of Minnesota remain in a mild to moderate drought, with total 2009 rainfall 6-8 in. below normal. Extreme southern Minnesota received close to normal rainfall in July, while most other portions of southern and central Minnesota received less than 50% of the normal July rainfall.
Crop conditions across the Midwest vary in early August depending on planting date, impacts from the lack of rainfall in June and July, timeliness and amount of July rainfall, as well as some recent storm damage. Overall across southern Minnesota, most corn and soybeans remain good to excellent. However, very dry conditions exist in many areas, which could start to reduce 2009 yield potential. The combination of some timely rainfall with some cool temperatures during the time of corn tasseling and pollination should help the prospects for corn yields in many areas.
July 2009 ranked the third coolest July on record in Minnesota. A total of 1,309 GDUs were reported since May 1 at the U of M Southern Research and Outreach Center  at Waseca, which is about 13% behind normal for July 31. By comparison, a total of 1,456 GDUs had been accumulated at Waseca by July 31 in 2008. Fortunately, most of the corn in the region was planted seven to 10 days ahead of normal, which has helped offset the cool summer. However, most corn and soybeans in the region are still about seven to 10 days behind normal development. Crops are further behind in some areas of central Minnesota that had later planting dates and have had cooler temperatures during the summer months.
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 kernel is black-layered, it is usually free of significant damage from a killing frost. Some of the later-planted corn, which did not tassel until very late July or early August, could have some challenges being fully black-layered by the first frost. Corn is usually at 28-32% moisture at the time it reaches black-layer, so some additional frost-free time will be required for natural drydown in the field to the desired 15-16% moisture for harvest and storage, in order to avoid expensive corn drying this fall. Some warmer weather is definitely needed in August and early September to offset the much cooler-than-normal temperatures that have existed throughout most of the summer.
Reminder, the deadline to enroll in the ACRE Program  for 2009 at county Farm Service Agency  (FSA) offices is Aug. 14, 2009. The county FSA office is the best resource to find out details on sign-up for the ACRE Program, farm-level yield verification, reporting requirements, landlord requirements, etc. Many FSA offices are holding information meetings, sending out newsletters, etc. Attend the meetings, read the newsletters and find out all that you can about the ACRE Program. Kent Thiesse has developed an ACRE information sheet, an ACRE calculation worksheet, and has links to several electronic ACRE spreadsheets. To receive any of this information, contact Kent Thiesse via e-mail at [email protected] .
There are also many excellent Web sites with ACRE information and calculation spreadsheets. Here are some of the best ACRE Web sites:
- USDA Farm Bill Web Site – www.usda.gov/farmbill 
- University of Minnesota – www.extension.umn.edu/agbusinessmanagement/ 
- U of Missouri FAPRI Web Site – http://www.fapri.missouri.edu/ 
- U of Illinois Farm Management Web Site – www.farmdoc.uiuc.edu 
- Iowa State U Decision Maker Web Site – www.extension.iastate.edu/agdm/ 
- Kansas State U Ag Manager Web Site – http://www.agmanager.info/ 
- National Corn Growers Assn. – www.ncga.com/acre-resource-center