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Hot weather and dry conditions haven’t resulted in much lasting damage to area crops just yet. But local farmers say that easily could change if the triple-digits weather predicted this week doesn’t let up soon.
Corn is beginning to pollinate and heat can kill pollen before it reaches the silks on the corn, said Bob Wade Jr., who raises corn and soybeans in Sonora, Glendale and LaRue County.
The heat also affects corn yields because the plants have to spend more energy protecting themselves from the weather, leaving less energy to fill ears with plump kernels, he said.
The trouble with the heat is made worse because there hasn’t been a soaking rain in the area since the beginning of the month. Some corn in thin soil is dying, Wade said, and the next few days’ heat likely will make matters worse.
“It’s really kind of the perfect storm for corn,” he said.
Wade said irrigation systems cover only about 10 percent of his crops.
Farmers might have to rely on crop insurance if conditions don’t improve, Wade said.
Crop insurance offers some financial protection for farmers when crops die in the field or are unable to be planted for reasons beyond a farmer’s control.
Lewis Goodin, who raises corn and soybeans near Elizabethtown, said rain will come. Area farmers are praying it won’t come too late, he said.
“This is a great example of where you can do everything perfect and by the book, and all you can do is pray,” he said.
Kevin Mobley, who raises corn and soybeans near Elizabethtown, agrees prayer is the only recourse of farmers without irrigation when the weather becomes harsh at such an important time.
“That’s about all I know to do,” he said. “We can’t make it rain. There’s only one person who can.”
Mobley said his crops have been doing all right until this week. Now, he’s seeing signs of stress — leaves rolling up in the heat of the day and soybeans’ leaves curling a little.
“It needs to rain now,” he said. “It’s pretty critical. The weather report we’re getting for the next few days, it’s going to get nasty.”
Mobley said he is very concerned, especially for pollinating corn.
Goodin said his soybeans are faring worse than his corn. The soybeans haven’t been growing and have begun wilting around the edges, especially those planted in shallow soil on hills.
“As far as looks are concerned, the corn crop looks beautiful,” he said
That easily could change and decrease the yield if more rain and cooler temperatures don’t come during this important stage, he said.
Goodin said farmers who planted a few weeks before him already are seeing a negative impact on their corn.
“After the next two to three days of 100-plus temperatures, it’s going to get really critical,” he said.
Amber Coultercan be reached at (270) 505-1746 or acoulter@ thenewsenterprise.com.