Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 16, 2014

Rising temperatures good for crops

By STACI ANN WILSON WRIGHT | Jul 09, 2013

In spite of a planting season that ran detrimentally late due to wet field conditions, recent dry weather and rising temperatures have crop conditions looking up.

“The crops are really improving,” said Mark Carlton, field agronomist for the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. “The weather we have had has greatly improved the corn crop, and things are looking better.”

Although some farmers were still planting beans as recently as last week, planting is now completed and most beans have emerged, Carlton said.

“We got some of the beans in late,” he said. “The yield curve on beans is pretty steep as we get past the end of June. Every day we delay affects the yield, but in spite of being late, in general, most of the crops look pretty good.

“The early planted corn and soybeans, I think, are doing pretty well,” said Carlton, noting that there have been problems with corn planted on May 24. “That corn didn’t germinate and lots of fields had to be replanted, but even the corn that was planted late looks pretty good, although the yields are going to be reduced.”

Late planting also meant fields were sprayed with herbicides late; this delay has only compounded the increasing problem of herbicide-resistant weeds, he said.

“Wet years like this makes controlling weeds and other pests a real challenge,” Carlton said. “In a week’s time, the weeds can go from 4 inches to 12. A small weed is much more easy to kill.”

Carlton said if farmers can control weeds and maintain current crop conditions, he believes “things will be OK.”

More good news is that the current hay crop is “decent,” Carlton said, a positive improvement from last year.

“We had a lot of our cattle producers short on hay going into last winter due to the drought. This year we have had more than adequate rainfall so the hay crops have grown very well,” he said.

“The hay got a little too mature before we had time to bale it up and when it gets too mature, the food value to cows decreases, but the amount of hay that we harvest actually goes up,” he continued.

“We’ve got good cottage of decent quality hay where last year we were running out. Last year, in many cases, there was no hay.”

When asked what weather conditions would be ideal for crops going forward, Carlton laughed.

“It’s been so long since we’ve had ideal weather that I don’t even know what it is anymore,” he said.

Carlton said looking ahead, ideal weather conditions for crops in Southeast Iowa would include daytime temperatures in the 80s and overnight temperatures in at least the 60s. Ideal rainfall would be 1.5 to 2 inches per week.

“I would certainly take an inch to an inch and half this week alone,” Carlton said. “There’s a little bit of corn showing some moisture stress right now. I see a little bit of corn rolled up and some of it may have some limited root growth in some soils.

“We certainly don’t want storms and we definitely don’t want any hail, but I would certainly take some rain,” he said.

Forecasters are calling for isolated thunderstorms today with an 80 percent chance of rain. There is a 20 percent chance of rain Wednesday and a 10 percent chance of showers July 16. During the next week, high temperatures are expected to range from 80 to 89 degrees; low temperatures are expected to range from 60 to 69 degrees.

“All in all, things are looking up,” Carlton said.

Carlton is based in Albia, but can be contacted through any of the county ISU Extension offices.

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