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
CropLife 100The Andersons Starts Venture Capital Subsidiary
January 26, 2015
The Andersons has established Maumee Ventures, a venture capital subsidiary designed to foster promising innovations that strategically align with the company’s core businesses. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Partners With Northern Partners Coop On Fertilizer Warehouse
January 21, 2015
In addition, the two companies will form a joint venture to build and operate a grain barge loading facility that will handle corn, soybeans and wheat for export through the CHS terminal at Myrtle Grove, LA. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Move To Colorado Complete
January 20, 2015
Wilbur-Ellis Co. announces the opening of its new Agribusiness Division location in the Denver, CO, Metro Area. The new facility will host key personnel as the company shifts the base of its Agribusiness operations from California to Colorado. Read More
CropLife 100United Suppliers, McGregor Co., Five Others To Form Aligned Ag Distributors
January 20, 2015
These companies will continue to operate as independently owned and operated businesses, however, their crop protection divisions will now be formally aligned under the umbrella of Aligned Ag Distributors. Read More
CropLife 100Bozeman Named SEEDWAY Chief Operating Officer
January 16, 2015
He succeeds Donald Wertman, who will retire at the end of August 2015 after 40 years with the GROWMARK subsidiary. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis’ Craig Bair Honored For Safety Contributions To Ag Aviation
January 14, 2015
The William O. Marsh Safety Award recognizes significant achievements in safety, safety education or an outstanding operational safety program. Read More
Latest News
Seed/BiotechDow Details Enlist Trait Stacking Standards
January 30, 2015
Dow says it will allow the Enlist trait to be stacked with advanced glyphosate traits only, and will not allow stacking with the first generation of the Roundup Ready trait. Read More
ManagementCropLife Retail Week: IFCA’s Jean Payne on Illinois wat…
January 30, 2015
Editor Eric Sfiligoj shares insight from the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association conference including a chat with IFCA President Jean Read More
ManagementOABA Conference Set To Highlight Trends, Technology And…
January 29, 2015
The third annual Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA) Industry Conference is set to take place February 4-5. Read More
FertilizerThe Fertilizer Institute President Jahn Testifies Befor…
January 28, 2015
The committee hearing, "Freight Rail Transportation: Enhancing Safety, Efficiency, and Commerce," looked at challenges facing our nation's freight rail network created by higher demand, rules and regulations and infrastructure needs. Read More
HerbicidesPurdue University Acquires Technology For Herbicide Mol…
January 28, 2015
Protea's LAESI DP-1000 Instrument System will be used in Purdue's College of Agriculture, the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, for the molecular imaging of herbicide active ingredients and other related compounds to optimize herbicide applications and improve weed management.  Read More
FertilizerH.J. Baker Hires New Crop Peformance Marketing Manager
January 27, 2015
As Marketing Manager for the Crop Performance division, Usman Khalid will work out of H.J. Baker’s global headquarters in Westport, CT, and will drive new initiatives for the division. Read More
CropLife 100The Andersons Starts Venture Capital Subsidiary
January 26, 2015
The Andersons has established Maumee Ventures, a venture capital subsidiary designed to foster promising innovations that strategically align with the company’s core businesses. Read More
Exclusive state-of-the art Stueve Construction designed “Vista View” Elevated Control Room.
Eric Sfiligoj2015 Agricultural Market Read: Mixed
January 26, 2015
The agricultural market could look radically different this year, profit-wise, depending upon which segment you do business in. Read More
Edward Chell Biosafe
Crop InputsBioSafe Systems Names Ed Chell California Territory Man…
January 26, 2015
BioSafe Systems has announced the recent addition of Ed Chell as California Territory Manager for the agrichemical division, supporting the crop protection, water treatment and food safety business segments. Read More
InsecticidesBayer CropScience Introduces Sivanto Insecticide
January 26, 2015
Sivanto precisely targets key damaging pests at multiple insect life stages to prevent damage to plants and help minimize the spread of diseases from insect carriers. Read More
ManagementRetail Collaboration, Communicating Agriculture’s Good …
January 23, 2015
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss the recent creation of Aligned Ag Distributors, and the US Farmers and Ranchers Read More
FertilizerOSU Expert: Toledo Water Crisis A Turning Point For Ohi…
January 23, 2015
The August 2014 water crisis in Toledo, OH, impacted Ohioans’ views of Lake Erie algae problems by increasing the attribution of blame of algae growth on agriculture. Read More
FertilizerH.J. Baker Launching TIGER XP
January 22, 2015
Tiger-Sul introduces this next generation sulphur-bentonite product with a proprietary activator – ensuring farmers have a well-balanced nutrient replacement program. Read More
Crop InputsH.J. Baker Expands China Sales Force
January 21, 2015
Global Agricultural firm H.J. Baker announced that sales veteran Shi Dongshen has joined their Shanghai office in China. This newest hire follows the recent opening of their Lianyungang Sulphur Bentonite Plant. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Partners With Northern Partners Coop On Fertilizer …
January 21, 2015
In addition, the two companies will form a joint venture to build and operate a grain barge loading facility that will handle corn, soybeans and wheat for export through the CHS terminal at Myrtle Grove, LA. Read More
Matt Hopkins5 Bold Predictions For Ag Retail In 2015
January 21, 2015
This past year was filled with ups and downs for the nation’s top ag retailers, but what will 2015 have in store? Read More
SoftwareDeere Launches App Center
January 20, 2015
The John Deere App Center provides users the ability to search and find apps most useful to their business or operations. Read More
Crop InputsNew Syngenta Herbicide Approved In Soybeans, Sunflowers
January 20, 2015
Syngenta will sell BroadAxe XC herbicide in 2015 for use on soybeans, sunflowers and dry peas Read More