Hot weather and ample rainfall are for corn-growing. But the devil is in the details. Too much of either can diminish prospects. And that's the story of farming in the Northeast so far this summer.
Summer has been good for grass and hay growing. That is if the grass wasn't trampled into mud and if hay harvest windows were wide enough for harvest.
Here's a quick look at crop growing conditions based on National Agricultural Statistics Service's Monday, June 8 reports.
Some areas of Maryland were very wet, while farmers most of the state and Delaware had finished doublecrop soybean planting after cereal crops between scattered showers. Topsoil moisture was rated 99% adequate to surplus in Maryland and 96% in Delaware.
Maryland's corn crop condition was rated 86% good to excellent while only 58% of Delaware's corn rated good to excellent and 29% was rated fair. Corn was silked on only 20% of Maryland's crop, compared to 35% for the five-year average. In Delaware, some 35% was silked – right on the five-year average.
Maryland's soybean crop condition was rated 91% good to excellent. Only 58% of Delaware soybeans rated good to excellent, with 30% in fair condition, again, due to wet soil conditions.
Some 94% of Maryland pastures were in good to excellent condition; Only 69% made that grade in Delaware. Hay supplies were rated mostly adequate in both states.
Last week brought some sunny relief to soggy New England. Field activities and crop conditions picked up substantially across the region as rainfalls shifted from deluges to lighter intermittent showers. Topsoil moisture was rated 96% adequate to surplus, with the majority being adequate.
High humidity has turned up crop disease pressure. In Connecticut, farmers were topdressing corn with urea as tissue tests called for 100-pounds or more of nitrogen to make up for losses due to heavy spring rains. Spotted-wing drosphila flies were already reported in Maine and Massachusetts fruits.
In Vermont, there was one estimate that 20% of the corn crop was prevented from planting. One weather factor has helped New England. Many reporting sites noted growing degree day accumulations of 250 to as much as 540 units more than normal. That has helped fruit and vegetable crops not suffering from "wet feet".
No report available for New Jersey.
Frequent showers kept much of the Empire State from drying down – along with its hay crops. Topsoil moisture was rated 34% adequate and 66% surplus. Many crops across the central and eastern part of the state needed water-wings.
Hay crops were generally rated 17% poor, 33% fair, 42% good and only 8% excellent. Second-cutting alfalfa was only 18% complete compared to 52% this time a year ago. Supplies of high-quality dairy hay and haylage looks to be a developing concern across the state.
Corn crops generally looked better than during the week before. Stands are spotty, and yields are expected to be poor, particularly in the central and eastern parts of the state. What may help with crop yields is that, here too, growing degree days were typically accumulating 200 to more than 350 units faster than normal.
Topsoil moisture is plentiful in the Keystone State, with 57% rated as adequate and 43% rated surplus. Here too, growing degree accumulations are typically 250 to more than 450 units ahead of normal.
Corn crop condition still looked good with 16% rated fair, 58% good and 24% excellent. Soybean crop condition was rated 18% fair, 67% good and 14% excellent.
Winter wheat harvest continued to be delayed with the intermittent showers. Only 20% of the crop was harvested, compared to the five-year average of 49%.
Hay quality held up well with 26% rated fair, 49% good and 6% excellent. Stands of alfalfa and alfalfa mixtures faired better – 21% fair, 55% good and 20% excellent. Pasture conditions were rated 29% fair, 43% good and 20% excellent.