By David L. Brown
Yesterday I wrote about a new report from NASA, reporting that 2010 is the hottest ever so far. To get a visual image of what that means, here’s a map from the agriculture.com web site showing the predicted high temperatures across the United States for this date, July 16.
If you think this may look like an image from Hell, you may be right. Farmers are complaining of too much rain in the Corn Belt, too little in the Southeast. To give you a feel for what some farmers are experiencing, here are excerpts from a few recent comments posted by farmers on the AgWeb.com site (you can read more farmer comments here):
7/13 – Northeast Indiana: Some are still trying to plant beans. Now we can’t buy a rain and not much in the forecast. Even the good corn is firing now, no nitrogen left to finish this crop. With shallow roots, it won’t take long to become real ugly.
7/13 – York Springs, Pa.: Our crop (beans and corn) are about shot…we have not had any rain since mid-June. Corn is 2′ tall, shooting tassel. We are hoping that the Midwest has plenty!
7/13 – Fayette County, Ill.: Finally got finished planting beans for the first time this year in the river bottom on Monday, the 5th of July. Every time I got ready to plant, it rained and stayed too wet. Lots of drowned out or very poor crops in some areas of central Illinois and some good-looking crops in well drained areas.
7/12 – South central Iowa: Our crops are the worst I have seen in all of my travels across the Midwest over this last month. It is the worst corn we have ever grown and we have been completely helpless as it rains and rains. It is pretty much a lost cause at this point.
7/9 – Coles County, east central Illinois: I walked out into my corn fields to check for gray leaf spots and found something worse: In a field that has looked good, was planted in good conditions on soybean stubble, had 210 lb. NH3 fall applied, was beautiful when I did post spraying, now when you walk in the field about 20′ you find stalks that are dead from the ear down. With all the constant rains, the corn never put down much roots and is not picking up the nitrogen. This is not just in low spots, I am finding it on hills also. It does not look like a bumper crop to me!
7/8 – Shelby County, Tenn.: National Weather Service, Memphis: It’s official, Memphis/mid-South area, June was the second hottest and fifth driest ever!
7/7 – Bucks County, Pa. (sweet corn crop): Very dry, having to pump water to keep crop looking and growing good. Temps 100° plus, pond is 4′ below normal. Working to 11 p.m. keeping sprinklers and pumps running, and there is a real fear of fire due to dry woodlands and grass. With that said, crop looks great. Hope the pond don’t dry up!
7/7 – Sussex County, Del.: Very dry here, temp over 100°. Corn crop burning up, soybeans standing still, not growing at all. Feeding cattle winter hay already. Pasture is gone, one cutting of hay, there won’t be another.
7/6 – Central Pennsylvania: Dry, dry, and dry. Only an inch of rain for the month of June, if that. Corn is curled up, and looks terrible. Only corn that looks good is on ground that holds moisture the best. If it doesn’t rain soon, well… we won’t need the chopper to come around to process our corn silage for our dairy cows, there won’t be a kernel to process, and not much stalk to chop either.
All-in-all, it’s shaping up as another difficult year for farmers, with Goldilocks conditions of flooding and drought and excessive heat added on top of that. We’ll stay abreast of the situation as we move into the critical late-July and August growing season, when the worst heat stress usually occurs.