Midwest Farmers Face Flash Drought

May 24, 2012 07:00 AM

Farmers in Missouri, southern Illinois, parts of Iowa and even up into Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota have corn suffering from what some climatologists are calling a "flash drought." 

Warm weather and rapidly spreading heat are responsible for the term, causing climatologists at the University of Missouri to fret about the state’s young corn crop. "It’s a continuation of dry conditions worsening in southern Missouri and creeping up into mid-Missouri," says Pat Guinan, University of Missouri extension's state climatologist. "It’s not encouraging to be talking about emerging drought in a month that’s usually Missouri’s wettest."
For some Missouri farmers, the weather conditions are seriously impacting their fields. "Just got a text from a guy in NW Missouri and he said they are in big trouble if it doesn't rain soon," Tweeted Jason Britt, president of Central States Commodities Inc. this morning.
Farmers throughout the middle states had an opportunity to plant corn earlier than ever this year, some as early as late March. The corn crop in some states began to suffer as it tried to push its way through over-dry soils. "A lot of replanting going on in Dodge County, Wis.," says one AgWeb.com Discussion board user. "Corn planted March 25-29 ain't making it through the concrete."
Even as far north as North Dakota, farmers are suffering from dry soils. This N.D. farmer shared this with on the Crop Comments blog, "Most early corn is up but a lot of beans in dry dirt."
Even farmers with crops able to emerge, are seeing their hopes dry up with their crop. One southern Illinois farmer and AgWeb.com discussion board user says while his corn is up it is still a rocky road ahead without rain. "There was some big rain across Illinois last night," he says.
"Looks to me like the heart of it, Springfield, Champaign and Decatur got a soaking. Down here, we're basically screwed."
The Midwest:  Last week there was a fairly large expansion of abnormally dry conditions (D0) across the central and eastern Corn Belt.  Hot weather, short-term dryness, and crop demands were to blame for the rapid depletion of topsoil moisture.
Ohio farmers are feeling the pinch too according to a Crop Comment from a farmer in Henry County, Ohio. "Lots of beans crusted in and others laying dry or swelled up, waiting for water," he says. "Some of the later planted corn also crusted in. Some guys with beans and corn left to plant have quit till rain falls." Another Ohio farmer wrote, "Corn and beans are almost all planted and up but are badly in need of rain."
88% of the more than 1,000 farmers who voted in AgWeb.com’s recent poll say that dry weather conditions are the number one concern on their minds. Way in your opinion here. The most recent crop progress report from the USDA says that corn is 92% planted, 76% emerged and 62% of the emerged corn is in "good" condition. The big question remains, "What will the crop condition be after the long weekend, while Mother Nature has heat in store for most of the Midwest?"


What next?

Check out this long range weather outlook: Above-Normal Temperatures

Deciding to replant isn’t easy. Farm Journal Field Agronomist, Ken Ferrie, discusses how to take the emotion out of replant decisions.


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Spell Check

5/25/2012 10:20 AM

  There are three things that directly relate to crop yields; drainage, pH and soil aggregation. Put drain tile, do what you can with pH unless its alkaline and don't till the carbon out of the soil. It makes the soil texture fine, packs easier, crusts quicker and does not hold water. Managing soil for aggregation, a far greater correlation to yield than adding N, is not on the minds of 2012 farmers.​


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