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Trouble a-head? Heat, drought stress corn crop

Staff writer

The outlook for the county’s corn crop this year is variable because rainfall either drenched fields or left them dry.

“I am hesitant to say the harvest will be good,” extension agent Rickey Roberts said. “Much of it will be, but in some areas the crop is really struggling.”

Some corn plants already have kernel damage from hot, dry conditions forecasted to linger into next week.

Andy Kleinsasser, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wichita, said 100-degree heat will return to the county this weekend.

“Almost every summer we have periods when the storm track shifts and there is a big dome of high pressure that suppresses rain,” he said. “Some really hot, dry, weather develops.”

Marion farmer Alan Vogle expects below average yields and test weights, but early-season rains gave a needed boost.

“We have had moisture this year, but we got too much of it all at once followed by times when it was very dry,” he said. “That happened multiple times this year.”

Some fields farther north are so dry they may be cut for silage, he said.

Terry Vinduska, who represents the Kansas Corn Commission on the U.S. Grains Council, said ears were forming on corn plants in the northern part of the county, but kernels are smaller than normal.

“Even if the corn pollinated well, there isn’t sufficient moisture for the kernels to develop,” he said. “We have seen aborted kernels.”

Nearly 1% of the state’s corn was rated in very poor condition, 6% in poor condition, 24% in fair condition, 58% in good condition and 5% in excellent condition by the National Agriculture Statistics Service.

Roberts still is optimistic many county farmers will get a decent crop, as is Jared Jones, with Mid-Kansas Cooperative.

“”I think even if we do not get any more rain it will be acceptable to most farmers,” he said.

He predicted average yields.

Weather can vary harvest yields in most years, but this year’s rainfall was so scattered neighbors may reap different results.

“Even if we do get enough rain, it’s not deployed evenly,” Roberts said. “Some go a whole lot earlier and then not enough later, but their neighbors did not get any. That’s the way it goes.”

Last modified Aug. 4, 2021

 

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