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Climate and crops in the news

With all the active weather this growing season, it’s no wonder there are a lot of stories about the impacts of the weather and climate conditions on crops.  Here is a sampling of some of the stories I have seen lately.

Heavy rains in the Midwest have caused problems for corn and soybean farmers.  In some cases so much rain fell that the crops were drowned or washed out.  Some lodging may have occurred from strong windstorms in some areas.  Farmers may be able to replant soybeans but it is probably too late for corn (AgWeb).  The web conditions also caused delays in spraying and problems with alfalfa harvesting in Minnesota (AgWeb).

The rains did produce beneficial effects for wheat farmers in Kansas and the central Plains.  Yields are expected to increase with the added rainfall, which helped end a drought in the region (AgWeb).

Cold conditions and frost earlier in May in Canada have resulted in the lowest harvest of canola in the last five years.  AgWeb reported that an early spring lured farmers into planting early, only to be caught by a late-season cold snap at the end of May which killed off many plants.  Farmers may need to replant as much as 70 percent of their crops, but supplies and time are limited.  The Southeast Farm Press also published a slide show of rapeseed harvest in South Carolina which shows favorable conditions for good yields this year.

Elsewhere in the Southeast, Rome Ethredge reported in the Seminole Crop E News that the oldest corn is now to R4 stage, and has about a month to go until full maturity.  This season the heat has helped accumulate growing degree days at a rate not seen since 2012, which puts it ahead of the long-term average.  He also noted here that corn stalks seem to be shorter than normal this year and quoted Dr. Dewey Lee from UGA that said it is primarily due to the warmer season and faster accumulation of degree days.  Allison Floyd reported in Growing Georgia that the accelerated growth has helped move the corn crop ahead of normal and potentially reduced the need for one application of fungicide to prevent rust, which helps farmers economically.

Science magazine reported here that the heavy rains in the central and western US are also likely to increase the chance of wildfires for the next few years.  While the wet conditions are suppressing fire development now, they are also spurring the growth of plants, especially invasive grasses, which may provide tinder for fires in coming years when drier conditions return.

Source: Rome Ethredge, Seminole Crop E News

Source: Rome Ethredge, Seminole Crop E News