AgDay's Tyne Morgan takes us to the Show-Me state where the heat has pushed this year’s crop to be ready a month early.
Farmers along the Missouri river bottoms know disaster all too well. A farmer n Carroll County, Mo., lost more than 3,000 acres to flooding last year. With sand still replacing soil in many fields, 2011 continues to weigh on their minds.
2012, however, isn’t turning out much better. It’s been a complete 180-degree-turn-around in weather, but the outcome could be similar.
Last spring, hopes were high for this year’s crop. "We had the best stand of corn we've had in years," said Carroll County, Mo., farmer Travis Matthews.
He farms along with his brother Hoss in an area that’s experienced above normal rainfall the past few years. This year, Mother Nature decided to shut off the water all at once.
"Pollination wasn't very good on a lot of the corn crops," Matthews said. So we're just way below normal on rainfall."
It’s more than just no rain that’s causing these crops to shrivel. 2012 has been a year for the record books, including the above average heat that’s scorching the corn.
"The temperatures have been through the roof...106 to 108 for several days in a row," he said.
Matthews said on his good ground, he’ll still raise an average crop. But it’s the poor soil that will cause the whole-farm average yield to plummet.
"In our area, soil type means a lot," Matthews said. "If you've got a good farm with good soil, the corn is hanging on a little bit longer. But if it's very stressful, like sand or gumbo, it got beat up about two or three weeks ago and it's burnt completely up. Over the whole area that we farm, we’re hoping for a 60 bushel average."
He said that number may even be pushing it. The average is normally 140 to 150 bu./acre, and even put 160 on a good year.
Even though the calendar says early August, the crops tell a different story. With corn already turning brown, harvest is coming a month early.
Matthews says he spoke to a neighbor who already started to harvest. His yields ranged from 0 to 200 bu/a.
"But the whole farm averaged anywhere from 110 to 120. The average moisture was 25," Matthews said. "So, I was pleasantly surprised with that. I don't think the county is going to nearly hit that."
Matthews says based on how poor crops are looking in the surrounding areas, he thinks USDA will need to drop its yield estimates in its Aug. 10 report even further.
"Across the board, I think national average is going to come in maybe at 120 to 130, 125. They're going to have to lower it some more," Matthews said. "And we're already losing a tremendous amount of acres that's getting baled up, disced up. We're already losing production daily."
Matthews says while many of his soybean fields are chest high and still green, there aren’t a lot of pods setting on the plants. Flowers, however, are continuing to bloom. So, Matthews says the next two week will be the determining factor on his soybean yields, and he desperately needs rain now.
And Matthews says while crops look decent considering the extreme drought and heat, 2012 isn’t panning out to be the record high year many farmers had hoped.
Note from reporter: Hoss and Travis Matthews are Tyne Morgan’s cousins. On her visit home she stopped to talk to them about this year’s crops. She says seeing them go through the floods last year and then the severe drought this year is heart-breaking.
For More Information
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