Some corn planted in high-stress areas such as ponds or on
ridges has already died out and dried entirely without producing
ears. Other fields, either late plantings or late replantings,
even failed to tassel by this date and are too late to have any
The 10-day weather forecast has nine days of zero
or 10 percent chance of rain, and one day with a 40 percent
chance, but that is five days away, and we all know forecasts
can change significantly.
Tiles and waterways have ceased to flow. On-farm ponds are
shrinking. The leaves on the outside rows of corn are now drying
from the bottom up, and some whole fields have yellowed or dried
leaves on the bottom half of the stalks.
Drought Monitor map shows Logan County as yellow, indicating
abnormally dry, and the beige area of moderate drought is
creeping eastward from the western edge of the state. This
moderate drought shadow will probably swallow Logan County in
the next few days.
With these observations in mind, we asked the question, "Is
this a repeat of what happened in 2012?" Will we experience low
yields, with significant losses in some fields, and will we
experience dangerous levels of aflatoxin again because of the
advancing dry conditions?
John Fulton, of University of Illinois Extension for Logan,
Mason and Sangamon counties, says that although we are having
dry conditions now, this is a much different year than we had in
In 2012 we started out the year with little subsoil moisture
because of a dry second part of the 2011 growing season. The
crop was planted much earlier in 2012, and the heat came much
earlier and pushed early production. Severe dryness in 2012 came
in June rather than in August. Excessive periods of heat in late
June, throughout July and continuing into August finished the
crop very early.
Damage to the 2012 corn crop came from the long spell of
excessive dryness and excessive heat, insect damage, and little
change in temperatures from day to night.
Alan Shew of Chestervale Elevator says
that 2013 is a much different year. We started out with good
soil moisture from spring rains. In fact, the ground was so wet
that planting was delayed. With adequate moisture and moderate
temperatures, the corn got off to a late but healthy start.
There was adequate moisture when tassels and silk appeared,
pollination occurred, and healthy ears formed up.
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According to both Fulton and Shew, we are in the denting stage right
now, when the kernel is starting to take on its mature form,
settling the sugars and starting to lose moisture. Fulton says we
are now looking at how much kernels will weigh rather than if we
will have the kernels.
Shew said he does not expect molds such as aflatoxin to be a
serious problem this year. Many producers applied fungicides to help
ears to fill out a little more and reduce the threat of molds.
Insect pests seemed to be reduced this year because of the rainfall
cycle. While aflatoxin is always present, he said, we have not had
the kind of stress that would make it a problem on a scale like
Fulton said we are still on a "wait and see" with aflatoxin this
year. He provided a table from research in Georgia:
Fulton said that expectations are still for a larger-than-normal
corn crop in our area. While it was looking like we were going to
have a late harvest, starting in late September and extending
through much of October, the dry conditions we are currently
experiencing will likely hasten an earlier harvest.
Soybeans are still up in the air, since about 10 percent of yield
comes in the last 10 days of their life. While the soybean plants
are looking really healthy in the field today, if the plants died
next week, there would be very little to harvest. If a rain comes in
the next few weeks, the soybean crop could yield well.
[By JIM YOUNGQUIST]