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Corn Belt crops still looking good despite nippy weather

Agriculture.com Staff 08/31/2009 @ 2:35pm

They're both looking good out there, but the nation's corn and soybean crops are still behind pace, development-wise. And, with cool temperatures making late August feel more like late October, that development doesn't look like it's going to catch up too soon.

But, some farmers say they've seen chilly summers like this last longer until the first killing frost. So, where the crops go from here is definitely up in the air.

Monday's USDA-NASS Crop Progress report shows corn and soybean conditions haven't eroded in the last week -- 69% of both the country's corn and soybean crops are in good to excellent shape.

Soybean pod-set and leaf-dropping is slightly ahead of the average pace, but corn maturation's well behind the normal pace, which has farmers keeping an eye on the mercury. In the northern Corn Belt, farmers say, in an Agriculture.com Marketing Talk discussion, temperatures in that area have touched down into the upper 30s, with the low reaching 36 degrees in Spencer, Iowa, according to Marketing Talk member floydboy.

And, even though the crops look good now, some like Marketing Talk member BA Deere wonder whether the nippy weather's going to affect how things end up once the combines start to roll.

"I went in the low gound where it always frosts first and there wasn`t any frost on the grass, only dew. I wonder how this crop will finish, even if a killing freeze holds until into October," he says of his area of north-central Iowa. "When the temp is below 50 it does nothing for the crop and with night time in the 40s it takes to afternoon to get temps on the plus side of 50. It'll be a year that will be used as a yardstick for years to come."

The lower-than-normal temperatures haven't chilled high expectations for this year's crops, though. Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey said Monday afternoon there's still a lot of potential for his state's corn and bean crops.

"The persistent cool weather remains a concern as development of both corn and soybeans remains behind average," Northey said Monday. "However, most crops remain in very good shape have the potential for a record harvest if there is not an early frost."

Looking ahead, that early frost will stay out of the forecast for at least the next week to 10 days, says Charlie Notis of Freese-Notis Weather, Inc., in Des Moines, Iowa.

"It is going to be a while before above-normal readings are again seen (temperatures will likely average below normal in the Corn Belt through Saturday, though clearly the coldest weather will be very early in that period), but we are going to see a warm-up next week to keep another frost threat out of the forecast for at least ten days (and likely longer than that)," Notis said Monday.

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They're both looking good out there, but the nation's corn and soybean crops are still behind pace, development-wise. And, with cool temperatures making late August feel more like late October, that development doesn't look like it's going to catch up too soon.

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