The latest report from the U.S.D.A. shows the toll the hot and dry weather is taking on Iowa’s corn acreage. The corn considered to be in good to excellent condition is down 6% from one week ago.
Spencer-based Iowa State University extension agronomist Paul Kassel says north and northwest Iowa corn fields are still looking good, but those corn plants that’re sucking about a quarter-inch of soil moisture daily will soon be showing yield-depressing stress because of the heat and winds.
“It’s going to hurt the corn because we’re getting into the tasseling period, but more importantly into the early grain-fill period any moisture stress is going really going to reduce yield,. So that’s our big concern,” Kassel says. In Johnston, Pioneer Market Analysis Manager, Virgil Robinson, expects the U.S.D.A.’s 8% downgrading of the nation’s corn acreage that’s rated good to excellent to increase corn market prices.
Robinson says the Governor of Nebraska declared a state of emergency Monday regarding the drought in Nebraska, and another week to 10 days of these hot, dry conditions will cause problems for Iowa. “Clearly we have some concerns, primarily in corn, beans deferred to a little deeper date in the calendar,” Robinson says.
The U.S.D.A. is rating 62% of Iowa’s corn crop in good to excellent condition, 10-percent is poor or very poor. Just under 60% of Iowa’s soybeans are in good to excellent condition.
Iowa State University extension climatologist, Elwynn Taylor, says he sees some similar patterns this summer in parts of the state when compared to the last major drought in the late 1980’s. “For eastern Iowa, it’s sort of a year on its own, but for western Iowa it’s not too different from the last major drouth we had in this state — and that was in 1988,” Taylor says.
While the state was hit by a drought 24 years ago, Taylor says it wasn’t something that hit every inch of the state. “It was a mixed situation in the west half of Iowa. West of Interstate 35, some places really did have a drouth in ’88, and other places said ‘you know we came out all right.’ Farmers will tell me they had an average yield in ’88, some will tell me — even two or three had a record high yield for them during that year. It just depended on whether you caught the rains events as they were going around,” according to Taylor.
“I’m not sure that it’d be the same thing this year.” Taylor says the extremely warm days that add stress to the crops began a little sooner this year than in the past.
“It was after the 15th of June when they started to add, we picked up a few earlier this year, but still, it was after the first of June when they started really coming, and we’ve been getting quite a bit of stress now. So, it started a couple of weeks earlier this year than in ’88 and it’s been going up rapidly, Taylor says. He says records indicate a drought occurs on average every 20 to 25 years in the state.
Dennis Morrice, KLEM, Le Mars contributed to this story.