Archive for Tuesday, July 24, 2001

Heat halts corn crops

July 24, 2001


— Scorching July temperatures have taken a heavy toll on Kansas field crops, hay production and pastures. Rains in the forecast for this week may bring some relief to some of the state's biggest crops.

Scott Staggenborg, an extension crop specialist at Kansas State University, said rain now will not help the Kansas corn crop.

"Most of it has either survived or not survived it," he said. "When it gets this late, there is not a big chance for recovery."

The Associated PressKansas Agricultural Statistics Service's weekly crop weather report:Corn crop was ranked 4 percent in very poor condition and 11 percent in poor condition. Another 31 percent was given a fair ranking. About 45 percent was in good condition, and 9 percent in excellent shape.Milo was rated as 5 percent very poor, 16 percent poor, 37 percent fair, 39 percent good and 3 percent excellent.Soybeans were ranked as 2 percent very poor, 10 percent poor, 40 percent fair, 42 percent good and 6 percent excellent.Sunflowers was rated as 1 percent very poor, 5 percent poor, 27 percent fair, 59 percent good and 8 percent excellent.Third cutting of alfalfa was 48 percent complete.About 27 percent of the state's pastures are in poor to very poor condition, with another 42 percent still in fair condition. About 31 percent were ranked as either good or excellent.

Farmers continue to harvest dryland corn for forage or silage because of dry conditions in some areas, the agency said.

Farmer Sandy Rau said the corn at the Rau Farms in Derby is not doing well: "A lot of it is starting to burn up pretty good."

The corn crop was planted early this spring. The ears in one of the varieties grown are so stunted they are only half their normal size, while other varieties are doing only a bit better, she said.

The heaviest concentration of corn acres are in far northeast Kansas, which has received plenty of rain, Staggenborg said. The other big corn growing area is in extreme southwest Kansas, where most of the crop is irrigated.

Corn is scattered as a rotation crop elsewhere in the state.

"By now most people have figured out which of their corn is going to be OK, and which they can chop up for silage," Staggenborg said.

Temperatures climbed above 100 at all but two reporting sites in Kansas Sunday, and a heat advisory remained in effect Monday for central and eastern portions of the state. For Russell, it was the 14th day this month that the temperature reached 100 or higher, and for Wichita it was the 12th.

The heat wave was expected to ease a bit by Tuesday, with thunderstorms possible through Friday, forecasters said.

Rains now will make a big different for the state's milo crop, Staggenborg said.

"Even cool temperatures in the next week to 10 days is going to have a big impact on the milo crop," he said. "We are hitting that stage when it is heading. It is going to start to flower, that is a sensitive stage when we determine the final kernel number on the head."

Rain will help keep the state's soybean crop alive but is not as critical now as it will be in another two or three weeks when the soybeans begin flowering in earnest and setting pods, Staggenborg said.

Sunflowers began to flower two weeks ago the only time when hot, dry weather bothers this crop. "Being native to the area, (sunflowers) are a pretty hardy crop," he said.

Dry weather has also cut hay production, with about one-third to half of the growing season left in Kansas, said Steve Hessman, hay market reporter for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's office in Dodge City.

"It hasn't had a major effect on prices yet, but it sure has on attitudes. Everyone remembers last year how hot and dry it was," he said. "... They are hanging on this hay pretty tight."

Lower production, coupled with a good demand, has kept hay inventories at lower levels than producers like for this time of year.

Hay and forage supplies are 85 percent adequate to surplus, KASS reported Monday.

However, there is little carryover of the small square bales of prairie hay. Supplies of dairy alfalfa are extremely tight because the heat has made it almost impossible to put up dairy-quality hay, Hessman said.

But cooler, wetter weather in August or September could still allow producers to grow some high quality hay, Hessman said.

In fields were wells are having trouble keeping up with the demand, yields have been about one-quarter to a half-ton per acre. Irrigated fields getting plenty of water are getting a ton to a ton-and-a-half of hay per acre, he said.

Dryland fields are basically dormant.

"Unless production comes up, we are probably looking at higher prices down the road," Hessman said.

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