After an almost perfect planting season through late April and early May in most of the Upper Midwest, a few more crop challenges have occurred in the past couple of weeks. Heavy rains from May 14-17 lead to standing water and some drown-out crop damage in portions of western and central Minnesota, as well as some hail damage. This was followed by some frost damage in portions of the region on the mornings of May 19 and 20. Most areas have now received adequate rainfall to alleviate dry topsoil conditions; however, sub-soil moisture still remains very short in some locations.
The frost damage was very isolated in most of southern Minnesota, but was a bit more prevalent in western Minnesota, as well as in North and South Dakota. It appears that most of the frost damage in southern Minnesota occurred in low lying, peat-type soils, and only in portions of fields. It appears to be mostly leaf damage on early-planted corn, which should recover, since the growing point on smaller corn plants is still below the soil surface. There has also been some concern in western Minnesota with frost damage to early-planted soybeans that were emerged.
Producers are encouraged to be patient with crop recovery from frost damage, as it takes a few days for new growth to appear, especially with the cooler temperatures that were experienced following the frost. Growers also need to be certain that the injury they are evaluating is frost damage, and not crop injury from other causes. Some early-planted corn showed leaf damage from the strong winds and blowing dirt prior to the rainfall that occurred on May 14-17. In addition, some corn has shown yellowing from the extended period of colder weather and cool soil temperatures in mid-May. Those weather conditions have also lead to some herbicide injury symptoms on newly emerged soybeans that were treated with pre-emergence herbicides.
If crop producers have questions or concerns on frost damage, herbicide injury, or other early season crop issues, they are encouraged to contact their crop consultant or agronomist for assistance. The University of Minnesota Extension website also contains some useful information on these topics.
Overall, early-planted corn and soybeans look very good in most areas of the Upper Midwest. Crop planting in many areas was completed ahead of schedule, and crop emergence has been satisfactory. There have been very few widespread early season insect or disease problems in either corn or soybeans thus far. The biggest overall concern in the past couple of weeks has been the extended period of cool, cloudy weather, which has slowed plant growth, and caused some plant discoloration. The extended forecast appears to be more favorable from a temperature standpoint.
Conservation compliance deadline
As a part of the 2014 Farm Bill, crop producers must be in compliance with USDA highly erodible and wetlands conservation provisions on their crop land for some crop insurance benefits. They are required to have FSA Form AD-1026 on file at their local USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) office by June 1, 2015, in order to be eligible to receive federally subsidized crop insurance coverage. Federal subsidies account for an average about 60 percent of the cost for insurance premiums for most levels on crop insurance coverage for most eligible farm commodities.
Most farm operators who are enrolled in the regular USDA farm programs (ARC or PLC) likely already have Form AD-1026 on file at the FSA office, since this form is required for farm program enrollment. If there is already a FSA form on file, there is no need to file an additional form for the crop insurance requirement. Producers that do not participate in regular USDA farm programs, but do utilize crop insurance, or that are unsure of their conservation compliance status, should contact their local FSA office by June 1.