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

Management2016 CTIC Cover Crop Survey: 33% Report ROI From Cover Crops
July 28, 2016
Insight from 2,020 farmers from across the country reflected enthusiasm for cover crops and—for the fourth year in a row—found Read More
ManagementNew Rabobank Report Calls for Farmer ROI Focus
July 25, 2016
As U.S. row crop farmers brace themselves for a third year of negative margins, Rabobank believes farmers must lower the Read More
ManagementGROWMARK Meeting Visit, Company Takeover Updates, and RNC Invite
July 22, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss their recent speaking engagement at GROWMARK’s eastern event, crop protection company merger rumors, Read More
ManagementLand O’Lakes Announces SUSTAIN Business Unit, Other Changes
July 20, 2016
Land O’Lakes, Inc. today announced the formal organization of a new business unit, SUSTAIN, and its leadership. SUSTAIN will focus Read More
Trending Articles
Southeast Farmers Coop - Finished Building
Retail FacilitiesNew Stueve Facilities Offer Ag Retailers Speed, Accuracy
July 9, 2016
Leading the industry in planning and constructing dry fertilizer storage and chemical warehouse solutions, Stueve Construction helped three ag retailers Read More
Heritage Cooperative
Retail FacilitiesKahler Automation Designs State-Of-The-Art Facility For Heritage Cooperative
July 4, 2016
Heritage Cooperative in Marysville, OH, needed an efficient liquid, dry and grain facility to serve the many needs of their Read More
The Andersons Waterloo
ManagementFirst Indiana Facility Certified Under 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program
June 27, 2016
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced that The Andersons, Inc.’s Waterloo, IN, facility has been added to its Read More
Food IT
Industry NewsCalifornia Event Will Mix Ag And Tech Professionals To Explore IT Solutions
June 20, 2016
Silicon Valley is hot on agriculture, and an upcoming event in California will bring together the food and tech industries Read More
Monsanto Luling Plant
Eric SfiligojWhat’s Next For Monsanto?
May 31, 2016
For the folks at Monsanto’s headquarters in St. Louis, MO, it has been an eventful few weeks. Back on May Read More
Soybean Plant closeup
Industry NewsMonsanto Rejects Bayer Bid; Open To More Talks
May 25, 2016
Monsanto Co, the world’s largest seed company, turned down Bayer AG’s $62 billion acquisition bid as “incomplete and financially inadequate” Read More
Latest News
FertilizerGypsum Added To List Of Conservation Practices
July 28, 2016
Crop farmers in a growing number of states may be eligible for financial assistance from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Read More
Management2016 CTIC Cover Crop Survey: 33% Report ROI From Cover …
July 28, 2016
Insight from 2,020 farmers from across the country reflected enthusiasm for cover crops and—for the fourth year in a row—found Read More
Palmer pigweed seedhead in cotton
HerbicidesStudy: Fall Weed Controls Can Make Significant Impact O…
July 28, 2016
An article published in the latest issue of the journal Weed Science shows that adopting harvest-time and post-harvest weed controls Read More
InsecticidesSyngenta: Beware Of Early Stinkbug Threat To Soybeans
July 28, 2016
With the record warm temperatures this past winter and confirmations from early entomologist reports, Syngenta encourages growers to monitor stinkbug Read More
Peanut field
Crop InputsVerdesian Introduces New Inoculant For Peanuts
July 28, 2016
As planning begins for the next growing season, Verdesian Life Sciences adds Primo Power CL, a new liquid inoculant, to Read More
Soil Young Corn
Crop InputsSmithsonian: 5 Things to Know About New GMO Labeling Bi…
July 27, 2016
On July 14, the House of Representatives passed a bill requiring large food companies to label products containing genetically modified Read More
Palmer pigweed in soybean stubble
HerbicidesSpecial Issue Of Weed Science Explores Human Aspects Of…
July 27, 2016
Weeds that evolve resistance to herbicides are a serious threat to global agricultural production. In this Special Issue of Weed Science, Read More
CHS Primeland
CropLife 100CHS Businesses In Washington, Idaho Combining For Great…
July 27, 2016
As full-service ag retailers, CHS Primeland and CHS Farmers Co-op collectively serve farmers and other customers in 15 counties in Read More
Storage Tanks at Nachurs
Crop InputsNACHURS Joins Field to Market
July 27, 2016
NACHURS announced today that it has joined Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, a leading multi-stakeholder initiative working Read More
Illinois Researchers
FertilizerMeasure Of Age In Soil Nitrogen Could Help Precision Ag…
July 26, 2016
What’s good for crops is not always good for the environment. Nitrogen, a key nutrient for plants, can cause problems Read More
Kochia
Crop InputsNufarm Launches New Herbicide for Resistant Kochia
July 25, 2016
Nufarm introduces Scorch herbicide for U.S. farmers and ranchers combating a broad range of troublesome broadleaf weeds. A unique premix Read More
ManagementNew Rabobank Report Calls for Farmer ROI Focus
July 25, 2016
As U.S. row crop farmers brace themselves for a third year of negative margins, Rabobank believes farmers must lower the Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsBloomberg: Syngenta-Chem China Deal on Track for Regula…
July 25, 2016
Syngenta AG, which has agreed to be taken over by China National Chemical Corp. for $43 billion, said talks with Read More
ManagementGROWMARK Meeting Visit, Company Takeover Updates, and R…
July 22, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss their recent speaking engagement at GROWMARK’s eastern event, crop protection company merger rumors, Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto: EU Approves Roundup Ready 2 Xtend Imports
July 22, 2016
Monsanto Co. announced today that the European Commission has granted import approval for Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans. This milestone Read More
Syngenta headquarters in Basel, Switzerland
Crop InputsSyngenta Announces Alfalfa Seed Split Off
July 22, 2016
On September 1, 2016, Syngenta will transfer sales and distribution of alfalfa seed to the NEXGROW branded business that is Read More
Dow DuPont
Crop InputsDuPont, Dow Shareholders Approve Merger
July 21, 2016
DuPont and The Dow Chemical Company announced that, at their respective special meetings of stockholders held today, stockholders of both Read More
ManagementLand O’Lakes Announces SUSTAIN Business Unit, Oth…
July 20, 2016
Land O’Lakes, Inc. today announced the formal organization of a new business unit, SUSTAIN, and its leadership. SUSTAIN will focus Read More