Here we are only a couple days away from August, and the weather has been tricking us. The soil surface was damp from several light rains which gave the appearance of ample moisture. However, the crops were quickly sucking moisture from deeper in the profile. As a result, we were probably a day or two late re-starting irrigation.
The weather man says we are still abnormally dry, and we are behind about 1.5-2 inches for the month of July. The drainage ditch behind my house is starting to dry up, and I’ve heard it is pretty dry where guys are ditching (even down 4-5 feet).
Critical time for grain fill
Crops are using about .3” of water a day while entering the critical time period of grain fill. Most corn has pollinated or is pollinating and moving into the milk stages of reproduction. During this stage, nutrients are moved from the plant into the ear.
This is a critical timeframe when moisture is required.
Crop dusters can be seen daily as many farmers elect to treat cornfields with a plant health treatment when brown silk is seen. (This indicates that pollination is complete and it is time to make an application.) The purpose of the treatment is to relieve plant stress and protect against fungus and other disease. We want happy plants, especially this time of year!
Soybeans are also in the reproductive stages. A lot of them are in the R2-R3 stage where a treatment of fungicide, insecticide, and nutrients has proven to boost yields. Ground rigs usually make this application as it is less expensive and you can use more carrier to push products down into the thick crop canopy.
This treatment will do little good if we don’t get rain to finish out the grain fill. Soybeans have even longer to go (than corn) before the crop is ‘made’. Consistent August rain is a key to top yields.
Which fields get treated?
With commodity prices as they are, we have decided to only treat our higher productivity fields. We had the aerial applicator in last week, and he is to come back again tomorrow. I treated all our irrigated soybean fields last week as well.
On the home front, the kid’s summer recreation sports wrapped up last week. Two of the kids were also able to attend camp this week, and two more hope to go in a week or two. Maybe we’ll find time to slip in a getaway before school starts!