Flash Drought Dings Yields

Between the Fencerows

A glance in your fields and you may want to get back in the truck

Published on: September 10, 2013

The flash drought we've experienced the past month has not received fair billing.  The last significant rain we had was the first week of August.  I guess this is nature's way of bringing us back on schedule after the cool weather and physiological delays earlier this season.

We are experiencing the same symptoms as many areas across the country.  The early wet weather led to shallow root systems which are not able to reach deep into the soil profile for moisture and nutrients.

Ear tipping (the abortion of kernels at the tip of the ear) and test weight reduction have likely cut an above average corn crop down to an average crop or less.  Poor grain quality may lead to storage issues.

Sudden death syndrome has appeared in many soybean fields, but having an even larger impact is premature death due to the lack of moisture.  Small seed size and aborted pods will be common this fall.  There have also been reports of aphids at threshold.  Apparently the aphids haven't read the university research which shows they should not be reproducing in the hot and dry climate we've had. Only a few farmers treated for them as many of the beans have matured enough the infestation is not likely to have a yield impact.

I really don't know what to expect, a rain now may only aid some of the later beans.  Even with the national average forecast falling to near 40 bushel per acre, I'm not sure we'll make it.  At least in 2012, late rains allowed for a pretty good soybean crop.

Locally, a few guys picked corn last week in order to capture the nearly 1/3 price premium for early delivery.  I heard yields from 130 to 210 with moisture from 23-40%.  Basis faded 30 cents after Friday.

I suspect farmers will idle combines and let nature do some drying after processors slashed an additional $1.25 off the price today.   Basis is posted to continue to drop weekly until the full basis reduction of $1.95 is realized at the peak of harvest.

The last few weeks we have focused on hauling chicken litter, harvest preparations, and (unfortunately) more irrigation.  I think this is our last application on most of the irrigated fields.  Corn is very near black layer.  We only have a couple fields of irrigated soybeans.  Those are quickly turning yellow, showing the ends stages of development.