The drought drag on the state corn and soybean crops continues with the latest U.S.D.A. report showing only 36% of the corn and just 38% of the soybeans are in good to excellent condition statewide. The numbers last week showed the corn crop at 46% in good to excellent condition — while two weeks ago it was 62%.
The soybeans were rated 48% good to excellent last week. Iowa State University Extension crop specialist Mark Licht says there is a way to visually judge how much damage is being done to your corn’s yield.
“We typically fall back into leaf rolling. We know that for every 12 hours of leaf rolling you lose about one-percent to yield loss. But the week before and after silking, you actually loose about three percent yield loss for every 12 hours of leaf rolling,” Licht explains.
“So if you’ve been watching your cornfield well enough then you can kind of calculate out how hours of leaf rolling you had.” The U.S.D.A. says 74% of the corn crop has reached the silk stage that Licht talked about.
The drought isn’t the only thing that’s causing crop problems, insects are also a concern. “There’s a few Japanese beetles out in west-central and north-central Iowa, but also corn rootworm beetles. As they feed on the cornsilks, if we’re having troubles with pollination because of the heat stress, any silk feeding can aggravate that a little more, so we do need to pay attention to those,” Licht says.
While the corn is in the critical stage of seed development, Licht says the soybeans still have a little more time. “With soybeans we really don’t start filling the seeds until…August, the first part of August is when we start that seed fill. And that’s again when we need the most amount of moisture,” according to Licht.
“So if temperatures go down a little bit and we get some rains in late July, early August, soybeans definitely have the potential to recover from the heat-stress, moisture-stress that we’ve had so far.”
Governor Terry Branstad will hold a public meeting on the drought situation today at 9 a.m. at the high school in Mt. Pleasant.
By Dennis Morrice, KLEM, Le Mars