The next week to 10 days may go a long way in determining whether the national corn crop meets trend yield, exceeds it or falls below it. A good portion of the crop is approaching the critical pollination stage.
Based on reports from the directors and commissioners of agriculture in 12 key Midwestern states, plus reports from other sources, it's a mixed bag, although it appears weather problems, including growing drought concerns and excessive heat, may tip the scales toward below trend.
Here's a quick rundown. The situation is dire in Indiana, according to director Joe Kelsay. Purdue University Extension specialist Bob Nielsen agrees. There may be some pleasant surprises this fall, but many fields may struggle to even make a crop unless the situation changes quickly, Nielsen says.
Part of Ohio is in better shape, but part of it is also suffering. The same is true in Illinois and Iowa. The factor that may jeopardize yield the most that has just unfolded is the extreme heat, beating triple digits, in some of these areas. Where corn was planted early, pollination is already underway.
Part of Iowa is in good shape, but part if tending toward the dry side at the wrong time, sources say. And in Nebraska, director Greg Ibach says that in the irrigated portion in the center of the state, farmers are having problems keeping up with irrigation needs. The eastern part of Nebraska was faring better, but some sources say it began deteriorating last week.
Wisconsin has gone bone dry in all but northwest Wisconsin, where there's actually been flooding. In the rest of the state, the prediction of six cuttings of alfalfa when the warm spring began has turned into hoping there's a third and fourth cutting worth harvesting.
The states faring best so far seem to be Minnesota and the Dakotas. Reports of good crops continue to com e in from that area. Sitting in closest proximity to the Jet Stream, parked along the U.S. and Canadian border, probably explains why they're getting the rain they need in that part of the world.
Put it all together and it's a mixed bag. One factor hasn't changed. Corn needs water and relief form heat when it pollinates. Otherwise bad things happen. Bad things have already happened in some areas, especially in the Eastern Corn Belt. This is more than an isolated pocket drought, the directors observe. Just how bad it gets an dhow this season will stack up against the other years with severe droughts remains to be seen.