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

LegislationUSDA: Quick Implementation Of Disaster Assistance Programs A ‘Top Priority’
July 9, 2014
USDA has processed 106,000 payments to farmers in 40 states across the country who suffered livestock and grazing losses between Oct. 2011 and passage of the 2014 Farm Bill. Read More
LegislationTFI Praises White House For Signing WRRDA Into Law
June 11, 2014
The bill streamlines U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects, prioritizes authorized waterway improvements and provides needed adjustments to the Inland Waterways Trust Fund. Read More
Allied Cooperative Grain Plant
ManagementAllied Cooperative, Arcadia Co-op Plan Merger
June 10, 2014
The Board of Directors of Allied Cooperative and Arcadia Co-op recently signed a letter of intent for a merger between the two cooperatives. Read More
EmployeesSyngenta: ‘Take Charge’ Of Farm Safety
June 4, 2014
Syngenta and health officials warn of four health-related challenges in agriculture and how they can be managed. Read More

Trending Articles

Retail FacilitiesWaconia Manufacturing Builds Facility Designed For Speed, Efficiency
July 7, 2014
To make its new hub facility more efficient, Cooperative Elevator enlisted the aid of Waconia Manufacturing. Read More
EquipmentSummer Show Preview 2014: Superior Sprayers Take The Field
July 3, 2014
In this final installment of our coverage of the major categories of Big IRON that retailers can expect to test-drive at this summer’s events, here is a look at 19 sprayers. Read More
Scouting a soybean patch at Green Valley Ag.
EmployeesCropLife Compensation Survey: Battling Talent Drain
July 2, 2014
Retailers too often lose employees to companies outside of agriculture, while recruiting efforts are most often limited to competitors and other ag-focused organizations. Read More
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences Introduces SureStart II Herbicide
June 16, 2014
The enhanced formulation has improved viscosity and increased stability under heat and controls more than 60 high-anxiety grasses and broadleaf weeds found in corn fields. Read More
HerbicidesBASF Investing $270 Million To Expand U.S. Herbicide Production
June 11, 2014
BASF has invested more than $270 million to expand herbicide production capacities in the U.S., including more than 20 new products to be launched over next two years. Read More
EquipmentGPS: 25 Years And Still Growing
June 2, 2014
The evolution of global positioning systems applications in agriculture remains ongoing as the technology hits a notable milestone. Read More

Latest News

CropLife 100Pinnacle Forms Alliance With Wildlife Managment, Seed O…
July 25, 2014
The strategic alliance will provide Tecomate with key wildlife products, processing facilities, distribution centers and sales through Pinnacle’s ever-growing retail network. Read More
ManagementFranken Presses White House On RFS Support
July 25, 2014
Al Franken and a group of Senate democrats recently met with senior White House official John Podesta to urge the administration to change its position on an EPA proposal. Read More
ManagementASA, FarmLink To Launch ‘Operation Benchmark̵…
July 25, 2014
The American Soybean Association (ASA) and FarmLink are teaming up to help farmers close the $11 billion gap between what they harvested in 2013 and what they could harvest annually. Read More
StewardshipNorthey: Farmers Commit $1.4 Million to Try New Water Q…
July 25, 2014
The practices that are eligible for funding include cover crops, no-till or strip till and using a nitrification inhibitor when applying fall fertilizer. Read More
Precision AgFarmers Learn How Changing World Will Impact Iowa
July 24, 2014
Technology and understanding global consumer demand for Iowa farm products brought hundreds of farmers and agribusiness leaders to Ames recently for the annual Iowa Farm Bureau Federation Economic Summit. Read More
HerbicidesPurdue: Late Season Weeds May Require Manual Removal
July 24, 2014
Hand-rouging and pulling late season weeds by hand may be the best way to remove them, more so than using a herbicide, a Purdue Extension weed scientist says. Read More
Soybean Field
InsecticidesTransform WG, Closer SC Insecticides Receive R&D 10…
July 23, 2014
Dow AgroSciences has received the award from R&D Magazine for Transform WG insecticide and Closer SC insecticide with Isoclast active. Read More
EquipmentKinze, Raven Team Up On 4900 Planter Monitor
July 23, 2014
Kinze Manufacturing announces a partnership with Raven Industries to develop a standalone monitor solution for the Kinze 4900 series planter. With this new Read More
LegislationNew Farm Bill Continues To Confuse As Growers Await USD…
July 23, 2014
The new five-year Farm Bill eliminates many of the direct payments previously payed to growers and could benefit from USDA clarification, reports a Toledo Blade columnist. Read More
EquipmentPrecisionAg.com Relaunches With Responsive Design For M…
July 22, 2014
PrecisionAg, the worldwide leader in precision agriculture information and analysis, announces the launch of its completely redesigned website, PrecisionAg.com. Read More
FungicidesEPA OKs Two Willowood Fungicides
July 21, 2014
The EPA has approved Willowood Azoxy 2SC and Willowood AzoxyProp Xtra. two widely used broad spectrum, preventative fungicides with systemic and curative properties. Read More
Precision AgFarmers Learning Fast As UAVs Take Off
July 17, 2014
Farmers and others interested in how UAVs can be used in agricultural applications were able to learn more about the technology during the recent Precision Aerial Ag Show. Read More
CropLife 100Bobby Knight, Richard Petty To Highlight Ag PhD Field D…
July 17, 2014
Attendees at the July 24 Ag PhD Field Day at Hefty Farms will learn about the latest agricultural technologies, and get a chance to meet legendary sports figures Bobby Knight and Richard Petty. Read More
WebinarsUpcoming Webinars
July 17, 2014
Register for one of our upcoming Webinars or access our archive of past Webinars to view recordings of presentations that may be of interest to you. Read More
A finished Willmar 16-ton side-shooting tender.
TendersNew Production Facility Helps Willmar
July 17, 2014
In 1963, a group of businessmen started Willmar. Today, a half-century later, the company is one of the ag industry’s longest-running brands. Read More
FertilizerCF Industries Sells Carbon Credits To Chevrolet, Donate…
July 17, 2014
CF Industries has completed the sale of a large block of carbon reduction credits to Chevrolet, and will donate the net proceeds of $600,000 to the National FFA Foundation. Read More
CropLife 100Grainland Cooperative, Minier Cooperative Grain To Merg…
July 17, 2014
The shareholders of Grainland Cooperative and Minier Cooperative Grain Co. approved a merger of company operations effective August 1, 2014. Read More
ManagementStudy: Drought Costing California Billions
July 17, 2014
A new study has found the drought has cost the state $2.2 billion, primarily in lost farm revenue and wages. Read More