We received some much needed rain during the month of June. Right around June 1, we were very dry and the newly emerged corn and soybean plants really needed a drink of water. In fact, many soybeans were lying in dry dirt while some seeds had a little moisture which led to very uneven emergence. One bright spot was that the first crop of alfalfa hay was put up in excellent shape with little or no rain. This means better quality forages to be fed to our dairy herds next winter. The downside was that the first crop of hay was a little short. Usually the first cutting makes up to 40-50 percent of the yearly yield. If we continue to get timely rains we can make up the difference.
Once we started to get some rain in early June, things really started to happen. The corn which started the month just a few inches tall now is well over knee-high and looks to be waist high or better by the Fourth of July. In fact, with some of the warm weather that we have been getting the corn should be shoulder high and beyond by the 4th. I did receive an anecdotal report of an area farmer who placed a yardstick out in his cornfield and recorded 6 inches of growth on his corn plants in one 24-hour period! Corn is truly a miracle plant and today's hybrids can compensate for environmental problems if given an opportunity. Soybeans have also rebounded significantly. We started June with many soybean fields that had spotty emergence and many seeds lying in dry dirt. Once we received some rain this changed dramatically and now most soybean fields have evened up and look pretty good. The second crop of alfalfa looks great and is being harvested now.
So what are some of the issues that we are watching for the remainder of the growing season? There are the usual suspects such as soybean aphids. Bruce Potter, Integrated Crop Pest Management Specialist out of the Southwest Research and Outreach Center at Lamberton, reports that his network has reported soybean aphids at very low levels since early June on volunteer soybeans and some early planted fields. At Lamberton, they began finding aphids on June 15th and at Morris on June 18th. He mentioned in his report that they had probably been present for a week previous to that. Right now aphid populations are being monitored and action to control them is not recommended. Remember that the economic threshold is still 250 soybean aphids per plant average with 80 percent or more of the plants infested. Use a lot of caution and scouting before making a decision to control soybean aphids.
Soybean rust has been around for a few years and we have continued to monitor its progress through the soybean growing areas of the United States. In 2008, rust was found in 392 counties around the states the most since it was first discovered in the continental U.S. in 2004. Many states found it in late August and early September as the soybean crop matured. In early 2009, rust detections on kudzu, an alternate host plant, were found along the gulf coast in Alabama. As the growing season has progressed, soybean rust was found on sentinel plots in Louisiana on June 4th. This caused some concern as this was the earliest that the disease has been detected on soybeans in this state. What does this mean for Minnesota? It is way too early to get excited just yet. However, the elevated counts of last year demonstrate that rust has made some progress in establishing itself around the soybean growing areas of the U.S. We do have a close monitoring system in place to watch the progress of this disease.