What started off so wet has now turned into one of the driest summers on record.
Hot and dry. That pretty much sums up what farmers experienced across the Midwest the latter half of August.
"We could be losing more test weigh as we continue with this hot and dry weather," says Nathan Wentworth, who farms outside of Decatur, Ill. "A rain could still fill out this test weight a little bit, I think, but we’re not going to go backwards; we’re not going to gain anything,"
Wentworth has seen a year of extremes. What started off so wet, has now turned into one of the driest summers on record.
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"We had pretty tremendous potential right after pollination. It was filled out, blistering almost all the way to the end," he says. "And since then, we haven’t received much rain. So, now we have ears that look like this, where we’ve reduced our kernel length by eight to 10 kernels per ear."
He says that equates to about 20 to 40 bu. per acre in yield loss. And while the tipback isn’t in every acre of every field, it will definitely pull his overall yield numbers down.
"Average yields in this area are around 180 bu. per acre, but it's not uncommon to see well above 200 (bu. per acre)," he says.
This year, he’s thinking the range will be wide, coming in anywhere from 150 bu. per acre to 200 bu. per acre.
The scorching temperatures are also drying his crop down. He says some fields may even be harvested in two weeks. Most, however, won’t be dry enough until late September, which is behind average.
"We've got a few fields where ears are hanging down," says Wentworth. "So, we’d like to get in the field in the next couple of weeks to at least get that before we start seeing some ear drop."
He’s also seeing firing on stalks, so getting in the field quickly will be a priority, as stalk quality is going downhill, too.
This late in the season, it’s soybeans taking center stage. Many farmers say they’re one good rain away from a decent crop, but the clock is ticking.
"With the kind of difficulty we saw getting soybeans planted, then the dry conditions mid-summer that really took out some of the top levels of soil moisture, and now the heat that’s come on, it’s going to be very difficult for the soybean crop," says ag meteorologist Bryce Anderson.
"Pod numbers, I don’t think we’re seeing anyting really bad, but it’s just going to be a matter of if we get a rain now to fill the pods out," he says.
With little rain, crops are showing signs of stress. And just a year later, it’s too much of a reminder of the 2012 drought many would like to forget.