Crop Report

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For the Monthly Report Ending September 25, 2019

GENERAL WEATHER FOR THIS AREA:  It has been another rollercoaster type month here in Southwest Minnesota in terms of both moisture and temperature. We observed one of the driest stretches of the growing season in late August and early September. With this, we witnessed brown grass in city lawns, which is something we have not seen in a couple years! Just as we were about to declare the topsoil for the upcoming fall harvest season as dry, we received some significant rains. Temperatures have fluctuated from below average to above average over the last 30 days or so.

The majority of the moisture was received on September 8th through the 12th, with the greatest amount of rain falling on September 12th. During these dates, most of our area received between 5 and 8 inches of moisture. Some areas, such as Avoca in eastern Murray County and Westbrook in western Cottonwood County reported upwards of 8-11 inches accumulated in this short timeframe. It did not take long for rivers and tributaries to fill to capacity. In fact, the water was pushing out of riverbanks in multiple locations and almost reached flood state once again here in Windom. The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) recently reported that the average topsoil moisture level is 98% adequate to surplus and ironically, the subsoil level is also listed at 98% good to excellent. As of September 15th, there is 6.76 inches of available water in the top 5-foot soil profile. This compares to a historic average of 4.24 inches (Southwest Research and Outreach Center (SWROC), Lamberton, MN). Once again, the soil profile is full as we are heading toward fall and any additional significant moisture will likely delay harvest.

Figure 1 – As you can see from following the red line in the above graph from the (SWROC), there was more available moisture in the soil profile on September 15th of this year than on the same date in the previous 4 years. 

Daily high temperatures during the past 30 days have ranged from 59 to 88 degrees. Daily lows have ranged from 46 to 70 degrees. The last week of August and the first two weeks of September saw temperatures below normal, but things rebounded, and in-fact, increased above normal by the third week of September. The warm days, and lack of killing frost, has been welcomed as we still have a ways to go to complete grain fill. Growing Degree Days are at 2,374 as of September 23rd. This is 95 units behind normal. The long-term average is 2,469 (SWROC). Thankfully, we do not see a killing frost in the short-term forecast.

SOYBEANS:  Soybean development continues to lag behind average. This is mostly due to late planting, which has resulted in delayed maturity. The Minnesota Agricultural Statistics Service (MASS) indicated in its September 23rd report that 36% of the Minnesota soybeans were dropping leaves. This compares to 79% last year and a 5-year average of 65%. MASS indicates that 55% of the crop is rated in the good to excellent category. We did not need to treat many fields for soybean aphids as aphid numbers never reached the economic threshold.

A few isolated fields have been harvested throughout our geographic area, but we estimate that most farmers will not start engaging in much harvest until the first week of October. Last year at this time, approximately 7% of the soybean crop had been harvested.

Figure 2 – This picture is of a soybean field dropping its leaves. At this time, the field is still 7-10 days away from being fit to harvest.

CORN: Minnesota’s current corn rating is at 55% good to excellent. Ample moisture and recent heat have been beneficial in moving the crop towards completing grain fill. Very few hybrids have reached full maturity (black layer). The majority of the corn should complete its life cycle in early October. As of September 22nd, only 8% of the Minnesota corn crop had reached full maturity according to MASS. This compares to a 5-year average of 44%. A killing frost prior to the plants reaching full maturity would result in yield loss. At maturity, the moisture level of the crop will be 28-34%. Ideally, we would leave the crop in the field until the moisture level is reduced to 25% or under, but we may not have this luxury as the amount of field drying anticipated after October 15th drops significantly.

Interestingly, we did see some ear and kernel production from plants that had green snapped because of the winds on July 20th. If the break was high enough up on the plant and left ample green material to convert photosynthetic energy into sugars, an ear developed. These ears are limited in size and fertilization was not perfect, but they could contribute to the final yield. The challenge will be if the ears are high enough and large enough for the combine to collect, or if they will slip through the gathering chains on the combine head.

Figure 3 – We are seeing as much as variability in ear size in 2019 as we have seen in many years.

REMARKS:  According to the September USDA Monthly Supply and Demand Report, national corn production is projected at 13.8 billion bushels, down 102 million bushels from the August report. Harvested acres for grain are estimated at 82 million acres, which was the same as the August report. This compares to 81.7 million acres harvested for grain in 2018 and 82.7 in 2017. Average yield is estimated at 168.2 bushels per acre. This is down from 169.5 in the August report.

Soybean production forecast is at 3.63 billion bushels, down 47 million bushels from last month. Based on conditions as of September 1st, USDA expects the national yield average at 47.9 bushels per acre, down from 48.5 in the August report. Harvested acres in the U.S. are estimated to be at 75.9 million acres, unchanged from August, but down from 88.1 in 2018 and 89.5 in 2017.

Based on conditions as of September 1st, Minnesota corn yields are expected to average 171 bushels per acre, down 2 bushels per acre from the August estimate and down 11 bushels per acre from last year. An estimated 7.4 million acres will be harvested for grain out of the 7.9 million acres planted. The Minnesota soybean yield is estimated at 45 bushels per acre, down 1 bushel per acre from the August forecast and 5.5 bushels per acre in 2018. There are estimated to be about 6.82 million acres of soybeans to be harvested out of the 6.9 million acres planted. (MASS – September 12, 2019).

Grain storage and delivery plans have been sent out to the tenants and we will continue to work with them to coordinate harvest. Overall, we are anticipating variable yields. The staff is processing the first round of Market Facilitation payments. The second payment is estimated to take place in November and the third payment will likely take place in January of 2020. The second and third payments are subject to the markets relative to trade negotiations with China, although it seems very likely producers will receive all of these payments at this time. We will also be researching fertilizer prices and will be putting together rate recommendations for those fields that will have fertilizer applied yet this fall after harvest. We have also been working on 2020 cash rental recommendations and year-end projections for clients.

Figure 4 – This is a field of Sorghum Sudangrass (millet) nearing maturity.  It was planted as a cover crop on a Prevented Planting field.  The crop will be chopped as forage for cattle feed.

Growing-Degree Days

September 23, 2019 2,374 -95

Corn Growing Degree Days are calculated by subtracting a 50 degree base temperature from the average of the maximum and minimum temperature for the day. The daily maximum is limited to 86 degrees and the minimum is 50 degrees.

Grain Markets (September 24, 2019)

  New Vision-Windom Magnolia POET Ethanol-Bingham Lake Minnesota Soybean Processors- Brewster
Cash-Corn 3.73 3.79 3.72 N/A
Cash-Soybeans 8.11 8.09 N/A 8.24
October-Corn 3.56 3.64 3.63 N/A
October-Soybeans 8.11 8.09 N/A 8.34

Rainfall (Inches):

County City August 16-September 15- 2019 March 15 to date-2019 March 15 to date-2018
Cottonwood Jeffers 6.58 27.01 26.19
Cottonwood Windom 6.54 26.02 28.45
Jackson Heron Lake 5.17 24.98 27.41
Jackson Jackson 4.20 22.64 31.52
Martin Trimont 5.01 23.97 29.74
Murray Fulda 5.61 26.01 30.27
Murray Slayton 7.01 26.95 29.23
Nobles Round Lake 4.44 24.64 33.62
Nobles Rushmore 6.34 27.01 30.81
Redwood Redwood Falls 6.12 26.99 28.78
Rock Magnolia 6.37 26.54 30.64


Steven J. Hiniker

Farm Management Advisor

Real Estate Salesperson