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Dry heat may take toll on corn and soy

July 5, 2012
By Steve Browne , Marshall Independent

MARSHALL - The crop situation is still good, but if the heat and lack of moisture continues, there could be some ill effects quite soon.

"Crop conditions are good overall, but as you go south where it's drier, you begin to see the effects of heat," said Bryan Smith, manager of Central Crop Consultants. "Lighter soils burn up and desiccate and crop yields go down. It depends on how hot it is and how much rain we do or do not get."

Temperatures that have averaged in the 80s and 90s will start to effect crop yields if they continue without rain, according to Smith.

"Fortunately, we started out with good sub-soil moisture and had good rains," Smith said. "Overall the crops are good, but that could change."

Todd Reif, manager of the Marshall area office of CHS Inc. agricultural service company, said area crops are on the verge of showing ill effects of the dry heat, when leaves begin to roll up to protect themselves.

"Crops definitely have a weather effect," Reif said. "We haven't seen any rolling yet. We're OK now, but the forecast is what worries us."

The National Weather Service forecast for the area calls for continued high temperatures, with a possibility of thunderstorms no earlier than late next week.

"We need the heat units, but we need the moisture," Reif said. "Next week the corn should start tasseling, and it needs moisture to help with pollination."

Reif said there shouldn't be any visible ill effects on crops this week, but if conditions continue, the effects should start showing next week.

And, what's bad for crops is good for some insects.

"Everything speeds up because all insects and nematodes work off degree days and accumulated heat and develop faster," said Bruce Potter, integrated pest management specialist with the Southwest Research and Outreach Center Lamberton office. "Some soft-bodied insects like soybean aphids may suffer and desiccate.

"But we've already seen root worms, which we wouldn't usually see for another week to 10 days," he added. "And if it stays hot and dry, we'll see problems with spider mites. If all this heat keeps up, I anticipate some problems."

According to Potter, soybean aphids like temperatures around the mid-80s, right around what it's been on average the past few weeks.

"Lack of moisture in general favors insects," Potter said. "Moisture promotes insect pathogens."

The good news, Potter said, is that predator insects such as lady beetles reproduce faster in the heat and feast off the soybean aphids.

"Hopefully, it'll rain pretty quick," Potter said.



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