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by Mark Cheffey
Recent rains were a welcome sight to ag producers in the area, but they needed to come earlier and now more often to make for a strong crop outlook.
According to Robert Wessiak, the University of Missouri Extension agronomy field specialist based in Marion County, the rain resulting from two systems that went through the region two weeks ago, were sorely needed.
“Rainfall certainly came at a good time for the corn and bean crop. However it would seem to have fellen at a time that will more greatly benefit soybean yield, as soybeans are further behind in reproduction at this point and more likely to face seed abortion,” Wessiak said. “We are driving kernel weight in corn, with no effect on kernel number, as kernel abortion and pollination will have occurred earlier in the drought.
“Either way, it would have been much better to have these rains earlier, but it is better late than never.”
All-in-all, it means there will not be a bumper crop season for producers in the area, especially with corn.
“There are a fair number of acres that did not make an ear due to lack of rainfall and poor pollination,” Wessiak said. “With as short as corn and soybeans are due to lack of rain, I do not anticipate record yields.
“That being said, this year has been an excellent wheat year, with 100 bushel yields not being uncommon.”
The drought has been pretty wide spread in Northeast Missouri with the little rainfall that has come being spotty as is typical during the summer.
“There are many cases of fields in close proximity, where one field gets rain and the other does not,” Wessiak said.
Farmers he has talked to have been telling him how bad the drought has been for them whether they raise crops or cattle.
“I have had a few inquiries regarding pricing and making corn silage and baleage as well as ammoniating wheat and oat straw after harvest,” Wessiak said. “Many farmers still chose to plant double crop soybeans after wheat, which these rains we have been getting may prove to make for a better double crop yield this year than what I initially expected.”
More rain would, of course, be very welcome even if it ends up being more helpful for next year.
“It would be good if we can get some extra rains in, as moisture deficit not only affects one year of production, as we have seen cumulative effects from last year’s and this year’s dry weather,” Wessiak said. “Soybeans are still filling pods and corn is still accumulating dry matter in the kernel, so moisture would be a nice thing to have right now up till harvest time.”
Overall, the entire state has been hit hard by the drought, although some regions have had it worse than others.
“Missouri in general is under drought conditions, however there are pockets of the state that are okay to well,” Wessiak said. “Northwest Missouri has faired much better this year than Northeast Missouri, and I have heard reports that their cropping outlook is positive.
“I have also heard they have much more disease intensity this year than us.”
Pests and disease problems have not been too bad in Northeast Missouri, but Wessiak said that could change.
“I have had calls this year related to aphids, Japanese beetles, cutworms and sphinx moth larva,” he said. “I suspect with as hot and dry as it has been, at least some have experienced issues with spider mites.
“General disease and insect pressure has not been high, at least where I have scouted and from what has been reported to me, however we have still seen tar spot in our irrigated bottoms.
“I feel now that we are seeing increased rainfall and cooler temperatures, we may see an uptick in disease severity.
“I believe those that got fungicide on just before these rains will certainly benefit from its application.
“There has been a fair amount of failure of pre-emergent herbicides due to lack of moisture for chemical activation in the soil.”
To see current drought conditions and to report drought impacts, access the U.S. Drought Monitor online, which is put out by the Nation Drought Mitigation Center, USDA and NOAA.