Heat, no moisture
putting crop in peril
By Russ Pankonin
The Imperial Republican
Hot! Hot! Hot! And dry!
Those conditions spell disaster for this year’s dryland corn crop if it doesn’t get rain, and soon.
Dryland corn has become a key rotation crop, especially on wheat ground. It allows farmers to get a crop two out of every three years on wheat ground, versus every other year.
But things don’t look good for this year’s dryland corn.
Tom Gaschler, a crop scout for Frenchman Valley Coop, said eco-fallow corn, which is planted into last year’s wheat stubble, can stand no more than a week to 10 days in this heat.
Temperatures have hovered around or above 100°F for much of last week and are forecast to stay there through the end of the week. Chances for rain stands at a measly 10-20 percent through Saturday.
Some of the dryland corn planted back this spring on last year’s dryland corn ground won’t make it, he said.
John Vogt, manager at Crop Production Services, said Wednesday it’s questionable just how long the eco-fallow corn can hold on. “It’s looking pretty rough,” he said. “It’s got to have some water.”
Vogt’s assessment of dryland corn crop not planted into eco-fallow stubble matched Gaschler’s—it’s only a matter of time before it’s completely gone.
Gaschler said the eco-fallow dryland corn has about an inch of subsoil moisture left before it’s tapped out. The top foot of subsoil moisture is already gone, he said.
He noted the corn can shut down during the hot mornings and afternoons to conserve moisture but it can only do so much without moisture. Even early morning dews would help for a while, he added.
While it’s not what farmers want to think about, Gaschler suggested one option still exists—taking what’s left and cut it for feed before the feed value is gone, as well.
He said the protein value of the corn can still be significant enough to at least make decent feed.
Little relief in sight
Long-range forecasts don’t paint a great picture of hope either.
Forecasts call for some relief from the heat early next week with temperatures predicted to be in the high 80s.
From Sunday through Thursday, chances for rain have bumped up to 30 percent with a 40 percent chance on Tuesday.
Right now, that’s the only thing that can salvage the dryland corn crop.
Drought conditions in U.S.
Nebraska isn’t alone in facing hot, dry drought-like conditions.
The other big three corn states—Iowa, Illinois and Indiana—face possibly even worse conditions than here in Nebraska.
Ag experts in Indiana say their farmers are already facing big crop losses because of this summer’s drought.
Less than half the normal amount of rain has fallen across much of the state since May 1.
The National Weather Service says last month was the driest June on record for Indianapolis and Evansville. Indianapolis recorded only 0.09 of an inch of rain.
In Illinois, University of Illinois crop expert Emerson Nafziger says triple-digit heat will send plants into a sort of survival mode.
Nafziger said corn in some areas may already be damaged enough to trigger insurance payments to farmers.
The Illinois Department of Agriculture said earlier this week that almost a quarter of the state’s corn crop is in poor or worse condition.
The U.S. Drought Monitor indicates most of Illinois is experiencing at least moderate drought.
Drought affecting prices
Farmers nationwide anticipating more profit from corn than other crops planted 96.4 million acres of it this spring—the most in nearly eight decades—the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Friday.
However, if drought conditions continue, corn supplies will decline and corn prices will likely increase even more, said Chris Hurt, a Purdue Extension ag economist.
“If we go above $6.75 or $6.80 (a bushel) on July futures, then I think we’ve got a real shot at retesting the all-time highs at around $8,’’ Hurt said.
Last Wednesday, June 27, cash price for new-crop corn in Imperial stood at $6.07 at FVC. By Tuesday, that price ran up to $6.40 per bushel.
Wheat followed along as well. Last week, the cash price hit $7 per bushel. On Tuesday, it stood at $7.32.