Purdue Experts: Time Left To Rebound From Drought

Indiana farmers and livestock producers still can recover from one of the earliest onslaughts of extremely dry conditions in more than two decades, but that time is growing short for some, Purdue University agricultural experts say.

While drought so early in the year is drying out crop fields and forages, they say it’s not time to hit the panic button – yet.

“Clearly, there are some truly severely stressed regions of the state,” said Bob Nielsen, Extension corn specialist.” But if you look at the state as a whole, the corn has hung in there amazingly well.”

Corn in Indiana will begin a crucial period for its development in late June and the first half of July – pollination. Insufficient water during pollination can significantly reduce the amount of corn the crop produces by harvest in the fall. Corn in a few fields in southern Indiana already has started to pollinate.

“The big concern now is as we approach pollination statewide,” Nielsen said. “We can lose an awful lot of yield potential per day with drought stress during pollination.”

Although dryness is not uncommon in Indiana in the summer, it is unusual for drought to hit in the spring as it did this year soon after farmers planted corn and soybeans, annually the state’s two biggest crops.

“It is among the earliest onsets of severe, dry weather we’ve had in at least the last 25 years or so,” Nielsen said.

Farmers and agricultural economists harken to 1988, when a season-long drought devastated crops, and to 1991, which also saw major reductions in yield because of drought.

While only 37 % of this year’s Indiana corn crop was rated good to excellent as of June 17, less than 5% of the 1988 crop had that rating by then. Yields that year ended up 31% below the predicted trend yield for that year.

In 1991, when drought began later in the growing season, about 75% of the crop was good to excellent in mid-June. But by the first week of August, it dropped to below 10%, leading to a crop that was 27% below trend.

“Crop condition ratings at this point are nowhere as bad as they were in 1988,” Nielsen said. “That’s the good news. The bad news is that we’re already worse than we were in 1991.”

Nielsen said it was still possible for the corn crop to produce yields close to trend, but it would need widespread and timely rains now and for the remainder of the season.

“We don’t want a repeat of ’88 and ’91,” he said. “It’s not a disaster yet. We still have opportunities to recover. There has been yield loss that we won’t recover, but I don’t think it has been dramatic yield loss.”

Agricultural economist Chris Hurt estimated that dry conditions already could have trimmed 15 bushels of corn per acre in Indiana yields relative to the five-year trend and projections from early planting. He projects that farmers could produce about 151 bushels per acre, down from his estimate of 166 at the start of the growing season.

With Indiana being a high-production state nationally, projected yield losses are beginning to move corn prices upward, Hurt said.

And, he added: “It won’t take much more damage before we see the corn market start to really light up.”

Hurt projects the potential of Indiana soybeans to fall to about 45 bushels per acre, down from 49 at the start of the season.

Soybeans that were planted early in the season – in April and early May – are faring better than those planted in mid-May when the dry spell began, said Extension specialist Shaun Casteel.

But soybeans that have just barely emerged and look stagnant for several days or longer might not be so bad off. That is because beans are putting their energy into developing their roots in these dry conditions rather than their shoots, Casteel said.

Although soybeans can withstand dry conditions longer than corn, he said bean plants that are severely stressed by drought will produce fewer nodes, reducing yield.

“But beans can compensate,” Casteel said. “If we get timely rains in July or August, we can make up a lot of ground with pod retention and seed size. This is provided those plants are at least sustaining themselves during the current dry period. “

Indiana has had less rain than normal because of continued high pressure and lack of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, the state’s primary source of moisture, according to the Indiana State Climate Office, based at Purdue. That has lowered humidity to the point where rain from the West can evaporate before reaching the ground.

Compounding the problem is the insufficient moisture Indiana received in the winter, said state climatologist Dev Niyogi.

“Entering the growing season, we have low soil moistures and reserves to begin with due to the warm winter, and the soil continues evaporating and losing water rapidly,” Niyogi said. “The rains we may get in parts can help, but planning with drought in mind will be a judicious strategy at this point.”

A storm front packing rain was forecast to move into Indiana late this week. Aside from that, Niyogi did not expect much to change in the next couple of weeks, with dry areas continuing to get drier.

“So, unless storms in coming weeks bring good rains, we could be in it for the long haul,” he said.

Latest developments in crop-related news is available at the Chat ‘n Chew Cafe.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Management Stories
ManagementMACA 2014: The State Of The Agricultural Industry, And Then Some
October 9, 2014
The trade association’s annual gathering featured speakers from across agriculture and beyond. Read More
StewardshipA Multi-Layered Approach To Water Quality
October 6, 2014
Illinois event highlights research and technology designed to better monitor and improve water quality — and the benefits of cooperative, coordinated effort. Read More
StewardshipMichigan Agriculture Leaders On Toledo Water Ban: We Want To Be Part Of The Conversation
August 8, 2014
Leaders of Michigan agricultural organizations said Thursday that the government should not have a “knee-jerk reaction” based on last weekend’s water ban in Toledo due to fertilizer run-off in Lake Erie. Read More
ManagementRussia Bans U.S. And EU Ag Product Imports In Ukraine Sanctions Battle
August 7, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin has banned the import of agricultural goods from countries that have imposed sanctions on Russia. Read More
Top 100 Articles
Milan Kucerak, president/CEO, West Central
CropLife 100West Central Cooperative And Its New President Are A Match Made In Deviation
June 29, 2015
To appreciate just how unique West Central Cooperative is in the world of ag retail, an observer need only consider Read More
Winter Wheat
CropLife 100South Dakota Co-op Member Owners Vote No On Unification
June 26, 2015
The Boards of Directors for North Central Farmers Elevator (NCFE) and Wheat Growers (WG) have announced that member-owners have voted Read More
CropLife 100The Andersons Acquires South Dakota Plant Nutrient Manufacturer Kay-Flo
May 20, 2015
The Andersons, Inc., ranked No. 22 on the CropLife 100, has purchased Kay Flo Industries of North Sioux City, SD. “This Read More
CropLife 100AgGateway’s Barcoding Initiative Progressing Nicely
May 8, 2015
According to legend (or Wikipedia), the first step towards modern bar codes came back in 1948, when Bernard Silver, a Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Acquires Minnesota Retailer
April 14, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC, ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100,  has successfully acquired Liebl Ag, LLC in Ada, MN.  Read More
CropLife 100CHS, Aurora Cooperative Complete Fertilizer Storage, Grain Shuttle Loading Facility
April 13, 2015
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading cooperative and ranked No. 5 on the CropLife 100, and Aurora Cooperative (ranked No. 21) Read More
Latest News
ManagementUnited Suppliers/Land ‘O Lakes Merger & Crop Update
July 2, 2015
CropLife’s Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the reasons behind the United Suppliers/Land ‘O Lakes merger and USDA’s recent Read More
Industry NewsBioSafe Adds To Sales Force
July 2, 2015
BioSafe Systems has announced the hire of two new members for its service team. David Britt recently joined the team Read More
Chesapeake Bay
ManagementChesapeake Bay Clean-Up Gets Renewed Attention
July 2, 2015
The Chesapeake Bay has been called one of the most biologically productive ecosystems in the world. It’s also one of Read More
Measuring Bulk Tanks
ManagementBulk Pesticide Compliance: Top 10 Areas Of Improvement …
July 1, 2015
  In honor of the 33-year run of David Letterman’s Late Show, the American Agronomic Stewardship Alliance (AASA) is happy Read More
Industry NewsArysta North America Hires Midwest Sales Manager
July 1, 2015
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced the hiring of Brian Battles as the Senior Technical Sales Manager for the Midwest Read More
Farmer on tablet
Eric SfiligojThe Never-Ending Battle Against Modern Agriculture
July 1, 2015
In the world of comic books, the character of Superman often refers to the fight to save the world as Read More
Retail FacilitiesBuilding Up Ag Retail
July 1, 2015
In the oftentimes unpredictable world we live in, it’s nice to know some things can be reliably countered on to Read More
Retail FacilitiesMaple River Grain And Agronomy Phases In Site Developme…
July 1, 2015
Marcus Construction helped Maple River Grain and Agronomy in Casselton, ND, with the design-build of its dry fertilizer, liquid chemical/seed Read More
Retail FacilitiesA&B Welding Builds A New Liquid Terminal Hub For Br…
July 1, 2015
To build its new hub facility, Briggs Crop Nutrients enlisted the help of A&B Welding. The result, an efficient facility Read More
Edon Farmers Co-op
Retail FacilitiesNew Marcus Facility At Edon Farmers Co-op Provides More…
July 1, 2015
Edon Farmers Co-Op in Edon, OH, needed a new facility to consolidate outdated locations. Marcus Construction was able to design Read More
Retail FacilitiesKinder Morgan Expands Its Storage With A New Dome Barre…
July 1, 2015
Kinder Morgan wanted additional covered storage at its Dakota Bulk Terminal on the Mississippi River in St. Paul, MN. With Read More
Retail FacilitiesHeartland Tank Protects Fertilizer From Extreme Cold At…
July 1, 2015
The Arthur Companies in Harvey, ND, enlisted the help of Heartland Tank Companies to develop a new liquid fertilizer facility Read More
The McGregor Co. fertilizer loadout
Retail FacilitiesThe McGregor Co. Partners With Kahler Automation To Cre…
June 30, 2015
Kahler Automation helped The McGregor Co. expand its Clarkston, WA, operation with unstaffed loadout technology that enables customers to pick Read More
Dry and Liquid Plant
Retail FacilitiesKahler Automation Helps CHS Dakota Ag Cooperative Build…
June 30, 2015
CHS Dakota Ag Cooperative in Mooreton, ND, wanted a liquid/dry blender system that could meet the needs of its customers Read More
Crop InputsLand O’Lakes, United Suppliers To Merge Crop Inpu…
June 29, 2015
Land O’Lakes, Inc. and United Suppliers, Inc. of Ames, IA, today announced their intent to merge their crop inputs businesses. Read More
FungicidesHelena To Distribute Unique Summit Agro Fungicide
June 29, 2015
RANMAN 400 SC fungicide, the only fungicide with a FRAC group 21 designation, is now part of the innovative Summit Read More
Eric SfiligojIARC Targets 2,4-D In Latest Report
June 29, 2015
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has struck again. Earlier this year in March, this agency of the Read More
Milan Kucerak, president/CEO, West Central
CropLife 100West Central Cooperative And Its New President Are A Ma…
June 29, 2015
To appreciate just how unique West Central Cooperative is in the world of ag retail, an observer need only consider Read More