For the Monthly Report Ending September 15, 2015

GENERAL WEATHER FOR THIS AREA: In general, the weather has been conducive for crop advancement in our area over the last 30 days. Perhaps one of the largest surprises has been above average rainfall this late in the growing season. This has assisted in continuing soybean pod fill as well as kernel fill and test weight potential in the corn crop.

The last week in August and first week in September contained slightly below average temperatures providing a slow-down in grain fill. Daily highs during this time ranged from the upper 60s to middle 70s. This can be seen as a positive as stress can be reduced on the crop during slower grain fill time periods. More seasonal to above average temperatures and humidity returned after the first week of September offering an opportunity for the crops to continue their progression toward full maturity. Our area recorded daily highs of 82 to 91 degrees during the second week of September. Current Growing Degree Days are at 2,335 units, which is very close to the historical average at this time of year.

Rainfall amounts totaling 5 to almost 8 inches were recorded over the last 30 days. As mentioned, the rainfall has been extremely beneficial for crop advancement, as well as improving both topsoil and subsoil moisture levels. In fact, the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) recently reported that the average topsoil moisture level in Minnesota has improved to 87% in the adequate category and the subsoil moisture level has improved to 86% adequate. Currently, there is 5.06 inches of available water in the top 5-foot soil profile. This compares to a historic average of 3.19 inches (Southwest Research and Outreach Center, Lamberton, MN).

Figure 1 - This picture was taken by a drone and demonstrates the maturity difference between two soybean varieties. The one on the right is an earlier variety evident by the changing color as it approaches leaf senescence.

SOYBEANS: It is no secret that we are rapidly nearing harvest when you look at many of the soybean fields in the countryside. Soybean development continues to progress ahead of schedule. According to the Minnesota Ag Statistics Service (MASS), 61% of the soybeans in Minnesota are turning color, 10 days ahead of last year and 6 days ahead of average. The 5-year average is 38%. The soybean crop in Minnesota is currently rated 79% in the good to excellent category. The late summer rains have been beneficial in filling the top pods of the plants. Harvest could start as early as September 19-21 on early maturity soybeans planted in April or on sandy textured soils.

Many fields are not 100% weed free and contain some waterhemp and/or giant ragweed escaped. Fortunately, most are at low enough densities that they will not impact yield potential.

Figure 2 - Soybean fields are rapidly beginning to change color and dropping leaves, suggesting harvest is not too far off.

CORN: As of September 6th, 85% of Minnesota's corn crop was at or beyond the dent stage. This also puts the crop ahead of schedule by 11 days compared to last year and a week ahead of the five-year average. 88% of the Minnesota crop is in the good to excellent category. The late August and early September rains are greatly assisting in completing grain fill and in turn maximizing yield and quality potential. Most of the crop should reach full maturity (black layer) by September 15-20th. The moisture content of the crop should be approximately 30-34% at that time. We can expect the crop to naturally dry in the field by 0.5 to 1.0 percent per day, at least through the first week of October. Corn harvest could begin when the crop dries to 26% moisture.

It will be interesting to see how much, if any, corn will be harvested prior to completing soybean harvest. Items to take into consideration include first killing frost, corn disease pressure, stalk strength, kernel moisture, and potential harvest loss.

Figure 3 - This ear is representative of both yield potential and grain maturity. The kernels were at full dent, approximately at 38% moisture when the picture was taken.

REMARKS: The USDA Monthly Supply and Demand Report on September 11th was positive to corn and neutral at best to the soybean markets. USDA slightly reduced projected national corn yields to an average of 167.5 bushels per acre while boosting the expected soybean yield to 47.1 bushels per acre. With a lower projected yield, it also makes sense total corn production was lowered by 100 million bushels from the August projection. On the other hand, soybean production was bumped up by 19 million bushels. Some of the factors that resulted in lower corn yield expectations can be related to the information provided below on El Nino and excess rainfall. Interestingly, these factors are also reasons that total national soybean yields have gone up.

The national corn yield potential was decreased 1.3% from the August report, if realized, this would be the second-highest yielding and third-largest (production) crop on record. At this time, record yields are forecasted for the states of Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. On the soybean side, national production is estimated at 3.94 billion bushels. Producers are set to harvest a record 83.5 million acres according to USDA. Record state yields are projected in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota.

The report also indicated that both global corn and soybean stocks are lower than in the August report. This may appear positive to current grain prices, but the market seems more focused on where the 2015 crop will end up after harvest has been completed. We are optimistic that this report has now set harvest low prices. We will be looking at storing this crop until prices improve, hopefully not too long after harvest.

Our El Nino event that has been relatively active this growing season can be credited for much of the current optimism for potential corn and soybean yields. Although it has delivered near ideal temperatures and precipitation totals and timing of rainfall in Minnesota and other areas, it has provided a bit too much of a good thing in other parts of the Midwest this summer. For example, data demonstrates that in South Dakota, the summer of 2015 will go down as the 11th wettest in the last 121 years. This has taken a toll in many states with Indiana and Missouri being most noteworthy. The excess moisture will be reflected in final test weight and kernel depths. Iowa on the other hand should be one exception. Although there will only be 6 wetter summers out of the last 121 for this state, Iowa is predicted to have above average yields, due to timing of the rainfall and the capacity to hold the water in the soil profile (NOAA website).

Will the El Nino pattern continue? Current weather models suggest that the current El Nino pattern will continue through most of the fall and winter. If this holds to be true, some portions of the Corn Belt could experience some harvest delays. As far as positives, this weather pattern would be helpful for the filling the soil reserves (fall recharge period) for the 2016 crop and provide milder temperatures through the winter months.

Can we really expect 2015 net farm incomes to be half of 2013 figures? Unfortunately, yes, this very well could be true. USDA recently released a report indicating national net farm income for 2015 will fall 36% from last year. If true, this would be the sharpest one-year decline since 1983. Net farm incomes this year are projected to come in at about $58.3 billion. This is down from $91.1 billion in 2014. This would also be down 53% from 2013 when net farm hit a record of $123.7 billion. It is also worth mentioning that this would be the lowest farm income level since 2006. Government payments are projected to increase to make up a small portion of the difference. These payments could increase 16% to $11.4 billion in 2015. In addition to commodity prices sliding, we have not seen expenses drop significantly. In fact, expenses are only expected to drop 0.5% in 2016. This is after increasing 8% annually from 2010 to 2014. With this said, there is a reason that we are seeing a drop in farm income, cash distributions, and improvement projects. Fortunately we are seeing above average yield potential, which will help stabilize income for our clients. We are optimistic we will see improvement in the agricultural economy.

Figure 4 - The colors of fall are here. The variability in this field where most of the plants in the background have lost their leaves and those in the foreground just beginning to change color is reflective of variable soil types across the farm.








September 14, 2015




September 14, 2015




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 (August 12, 2015)


New Vision,


Poet Biorefining,
Bingham Lake
























Rainfall (inches)



 August 13-September 15, 2015

MARCH 15 to DATE-2015

MARCH 15 to DATE-2014

Cottonwood Jeffers            7.10              22.32              22.02
Cottonwood Windom            6.63              22.59              23.01
Jackson Heron Lake


             21.17              18.14
Jackson Jackson


             21.87              21.90
Martin Trimont            5.25              21.58              25.94
Murray Fulda            7.45              23.02


Murray Slayton            7.21              23.71              23.38
Nobles Round Lake



Nobles Rushmore            7.14



Redwood Redwood Falls            4.09              19.76              20.93
Rock Magnolia            5.01              22.82              27.72

Steven J. Hiniker
Farm Management Advisor

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