Until late July, many Northeast farmers were getting excited about record-yielding crops. By mid-August, rain gauges went dry, and crops began shifting to the dry-down mode – except in New England where the rain drops kept coming.
Here's a peek at Northeast crop conditions based on National Agricultural Statistics Service's Sept. 9 reports.
With the lack of significant rainfall, corn maturity in Maryland took a huge jump in the last week with 52% of the crop reaching mature stage. That's comparable to last year, a very dry year. Some 77% of the crop was already harvested as silage, identical to 2012.
Across the state line in Delaware, corn was maturing much slower, with only 45% of the crop rated as mature, compared to 59% a year ago.
Soybeans in both states were slower to turn color compared to a year ago. But dry weather so far in September in both states has substantially slowed crop development.
Maryland topsoil moisture levels were rated 52% adequate and 32% short – a substantial shift in one week. Delaware topsoil moisture was rated 51% adequate and 47% short – an even greater shift in one week.
New England experienced warm daytime temperatures (by New England norms) and scattered instances of light frost late in the week. After being deluged with rain for much of the summer, precipitation was rated as abundant.
But topsoil moisture levels were backing down from the previous week, with only 12% of topsoils rated surplus and 87% rated adequate. That has improved pasture condition ratings to 53% good and 15% excellent.
Field corn harvest is just getting underway, compared to the average of 10% harvested by this time. The same is true for Maine potato harvest. Massachusetts and Rhode Island potato harvest reached 30%, not far off the 40% average.
The Empire State, too, continued receiving ample rainfall, keeping topsoil moisture levels 87% adequate and 9% surplus. Where soils were dry enough, corn silage harvest was getting underway.
Pasture was rated 31% fair, 54% good and 4% excellent. As one crop reporter noted, "Rains were sufficient enough to maintain rotated pastures, but continuously grazed pastures less so."
The biggest cited risk was for any early frost. A lot of late-planted corn needed another month of warm weather to mature.
Similar to Maryland, topsoil moisture levels dropped appreciably last week with the lack of substantial rainfall. Statewide, topsoil moisture was rated 34% short, 61% adequate and only 2% surplus. Crop reporters noted: "Rain is much needed to help crops finish strong." As of this week, that necessary rainfall still isn't in the forecast.
Corn was listed as 13% mature, compared to the five-year average of 17%. Corn condition was listed as 11% fair, 40% good and 46% excellent – similar to the previous week. Silage harvest was well underway across the Keystone State.
Soybean condition was rated as 20% fair, 56% good and 23% excellent, with little change from the previous week. Pasture quality was rated as 24% fair, 52% good and 8% excellent – down slightly from the previous week.