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Crop concerns growing

Jeff Caldwell 08/02/2011 @ 9:34am Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

Soybean conditions dipped but corn conditions stayed unchanged from the previous week in Monday's USDA-NASS Crop Progress report, though concerns, from weather to pest pressures, are starting to mount for farmers around the nation's midsection.

"Crop condition numbers last night were not shocking and if anything slightly better than expected," says ag market analyst and ICAP Energy derivitaves manager in Chicago, Scott Shellady.

But, though USDA's not showing much for crop losses in its reports, some farmers say it's a different story. Agriculture.com Crop Talk member Blacksandfarmer said late last week that recent rains in his area may be just what his soybeans needed to make a good yield, but the hot, dry summer has likely taken its toll on his corn crop.

"Later-planted beans in this area are so-so. The extreme heat and lack of moisture took a toll on the smaller beans," Blacksandfarmer says. "If I were to guess, my corn yield, I would say it goes around 95 bushels [per acre]. That's too bad, since 2 weeks ago, it looked like it could make 160 bushels. If we continue to get frequent rains between now and Labor day, I would say my beans go close to 50 bushels."

Timing seems to have been of the essence for other farmers. Corn ears are tipped back and soybean stands are uneven in places where planting and pollination took place when the heat was cranked up. But, if you hit the weather window just right, your crops may be in better shape than some out there.

"Earlier-planted corn pollinated before the heat without any noted problems, but heat, lower humidity and wind now taking a toll. Later planted corn had the pollination problems, though less than it could have been due to higher humidity for first couple weeks of heat," says west-central Missouri farmer and Crop Talk member WCMO. "Soybeans that were planted by the first week in June seem to have good size, color, etc.  Anything planted later (even just a couple of days later) is not growing much, uneven, and not taking the heat very well."

If you are getting some of the heat-busting rainfall that's fallen over the last week in some parts of the Corn Belt, it could be spawning other issues. Namely, soybean aphids. Crop advisers in parts of the central and eastern Corn Belt are starting to see aphids, though most are not yet at economic thresholds. That could change quickly, according to Purdue University Extension entomologist Christian Krupke.

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