Corn, soybeans getting thirsty
It's hot and dry for a lot of farmers from the Plains to the eastern Corn Belt. With a few exceptions where substantial rain's fallen lately, a lot of farmers' crops are hurting for a drink. While the area's not as rough as some, the corn and soybeans in parts of south-central Iowa could definitely use a drink. Here's what I found on a recent trip through a couple of counties in that area.
Here's one corn field in north-central Warren County, Iowa. The area saw some rainfall this past Sunday night, but it was far from enough to get the crop near its normal moisture needs, as evident by the cracks in the soil here.
Though the weather wasn't as hot as it's normally been on Tuesday, the corn leaves in this field showed signs of being thirsty. Even though it was about 10:30 in the morning and the temperature was in the 70s, most plants were already starting to curl leaves, like this one. While it's far from the worst conditions in the Corn Belt, it's a bad sign heading into a forecast without much rain in it.
This soybean field is just down the road from that first corn field. It appears to have been planted on the late side, and it was evident that there's already some weed pressure on these young plants.
Here's what some of those weeds look like. Though some weeds were dwarfing the beans -- some as tall as 2 feet -- they did look like they've been sprayed in the last few days. Hopefully that shower that fell Sunday evening will help that herbicide work. Some farmers are reporting that their herbicide's failing because of a lack of moisture.
Making my way into Marion County, I stopped by Smith Fertilizer & Grain in Pleasantville, Iowa. She was the only one in the office Tuesday morning, a sign that it's a busy time. Kendrick said they're busy applying post-emergence herbicide to corn, and one farmer was applying UAN 32% fertilizer.
"Everybody's talking about how much it needs to rain," Kendrick said. I bet it rained an inch in May and that's it." Pleasantville had about .20 inch of rain Sunday night. Not many soybeans in Marion County have been sprayed yet, she added.
This field east of Pleasantville looked much better. I dug just a couple inches down in the soil to find, surprisingly, it was still plenty damp just beneath the surface. This field had a lot more even growth than the field where I'd stopped earlier in the day.
At least the hot, dry weather's been good for some folks out there. This fellow, about 4 feet long, was enjoying the sun and gravel road until I came along.
All joking aside, things are worse in other areas. This field in southern Michigan is hurting for rain. Agriculture.com Marketing Talk senior contributor Blacksandfarmer says farmers in his area already have center pivots running where they have them.
Though it's far from the worst spot in the Corn Belt, the crops in south-central Iowa are showing signs of drought stress.