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Despite late planting, rain, respectable yields possible

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Worthington, 56187
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WORTHINGTON -- It's been a long, wet spring for farmers around the region, but respectable yields remain a good possibility, according to a crops specialist with the University of Minnesota Extension Regional Center in Worthington.

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Lizabeth Stahl said last week that while crops have been set back by significant springtime moisture as well as cool tempereratures, there's still time for recovery.

"We're behind, but we could be more behind," Stahl said. "There are other areas worse off than us -- in corn, anyway."

Heavy rain, as well as hail, in central Nobles County pummeled crops earlier this month, but Iowa -- generally acknowledged nationally as the heart of the country's Corn Belt -- recently saw 83 of its 99 counties declared disaster areas. Crop losses in that state alone will almost certainly impact prices, Stahl acknowledged, and both corn and soybean prices have been setting daily highs throughout the month.

Yield dates across the Corn Belt are generally "pretty consistent," Stahl said, but this year's harvest appears poised to occur later.

"When I look at yields, I would expect them to below that yield trend based on the planting trends," she said, noting corn was planted later than normal this spring due to continued cold weather. "We still should get some pretty good yields. Of course, it depends on the weather."

After the area's extreme weather of June 9, Mother Nature had been cooperating nicely through the middle of last week. A prolonged period of sunny skies and ideal temperatures was assisting crops in bouncing back, Stahl indicated.

"We've been finally getting some heat and sun, and that's helping," she said. "You can really see some change in the fields over the past few days."

While the corn crop adage "knee-high by the Fourth of July" is usually inaccurate -- corn usually easily exceeds that height -- it may be appopriate this year, Stahl said.

As for soybeans, this year's crop also went in on the late side, Stahl said. Any June hail damage sustained in soybean crops, however, can be much more serious than in corn, because of the early stage of the growing season.

"It's pretty early to see how things are going to turn out," she concluded.

Diseases and pests

Bruce Potter, integrated pest management specialist for the University of Minnesota Extension Service, said earlier this month that it's an ideal time to look at early planted, emerged corn fields for potential insect damage.

According to an article published in the West Central Tribune -- which, like the Daily Globe -- is owned by Forum Communications Co. -- seed corn maggot and wireworms are the two insects most often associated with corn emergence failures in southwest Minnesota. Seed corn beetles can also occasionally reduce stand.

Slow-emerging corn is at greater risk from these below-ground pests, Potter said. White grub damage usually shows up later.

"There is no effective rescue treatment for these insects after corn is planted," the Tribune article, written by Extension crop education David Nicolai, states. "Cruiser and Poncho neonicotinoid insecticide-treated seed and labeled corn rootworm insecticides should provide some protection.

"The seed corn maggot is the larva of a fly. The adult resembles a small housefly. Damage from this insect is worse when corn emergence is delayed. Egg-laying adults are attracted to decaying organic matter. Fields at highest risk are those with heavy applications of solid manure and where a green manure has been worked in."

Seed corn maggot larvae attack the seed of both corn and soybeans, Potter said.

Wireworms, the larval stage of click beetles, are usually dark orange, though a cream-colored species also causes problems in southern Minnesota, Potter added.

"Wireworm can often be observed when digging in fields in early spring. Finding them does not mean stand loss is inevitable," Nicolai wrote. "Historically, wireworm problems have been associated with fields planted after sod but can injure fields in a corn-soybean rotation. Wireworm problems are most frequently encountered in high organic matter, lowlying areas and especially on alkali rims in western Minnesota."

Nicolai added that damage is often worse in cooler springs for two reasons. Corn development is slowed, and corn plants are more vulnerable when small.

"Wireworms prefer cooler temperatures and will move down in the soil profile as surface temperatures warm," he wrote. "Larger wireworms may hang out for a last "bite" even in warm soils."

Regarding concerns about soybean rust, the U.S. Department of Agriculture indiciated June 16 that no cases have been confirmed in the Midwest so far this spring.

"There have been no new reports of soybean rust since it was last detected on kudzu in Leon County, Florida, on June 9th," states information on the USDA's Integrated Pest Management -- Pest Information Platform for Extension and Education Web site. "Since the beginning of 2008, soybean rust has been reported on kudzu in one county in Alabama; 10 counties in Florida (two of these counties had reports on coral bean and snap bean); three counties in Louisiana; one county in Mississippi, and three counties in Texas."

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Ryan McGaughey
I first joined the Daily Globe in April 2001 as sports editor. I later became the news editor in November 2002, and the managing editor in August 2006. I'm originally from New York State, and am married with two children.
(507) 376-7320
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