The Worst Cornfield

Inside Dakota Ag

The heat and lack of rain is starting to burn up some High Plains corn and soybean fields.

Published on: August 26, 2013

I saw what could be a 100-bushel-per-acre soybean field and a 285-bushel-per-acre cornfield last week in my travels through South Dakota and North Dakota (see my earlier blog post), but I also saw some fields that looked like they aren’t going to yield anything.

The worst was near Ashley, N.D. See the photo. The corn probably had been planted on a gravel or sand ridge. Cornfields nearby looked better, but lots of fields from Selby, S.D., to Fargo, N.D., were firing in the heat. Soybeans didn’t look much better. The plants were cupping and wilting as the wind sucked out the moisture.

For the week ending Aug. 25, USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service reports that in South Dakota corn is rated 3% very poor, 9% poor, 20% fair, 50% good and 18% excellent. In North Dakota, corn was rated 4% very poor, 15% poor, 34% fair, 42% good and 5% excellent. Topsoil moisture supplies declined significantly in North Dakota last week with 17% of the state now rated very short, 40% short, 41% adequate and 2% surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 10% very short, 39% short, 48% adequate and 3% surplus.

A field of corn near Ashley, N.D., suffers in th heat.
A field of corn near Ashley, N.D., suffers in th heat.

The National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center’s latest drought outlook says that weather models “indicate the potential for more than 1 inch of rainfall during the next 10 days across the Northern Plains." But the “forecast confidence is …low for North Dakota and Minnesota.”

But is it too late for this year's corn and soybeans?