Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Weather and Corn Crop Conditions

I spoke to my family yesterday and they "cannot believe the high USDA corn numbers" because they are seeing a lot of derecho wind damage to corn in their area in Northeastern Nebraska. You recall that most of the national news reports of wind damage were from Iowa. The wind causing the damage reported by my family in Nebraska was from the same storm on July 11th.

There is a lot of green snap on my own family farm, and conditions there have been on the dry side all season. Since Iowa had wetter conditions in some areas, the winds caused root-lodge instead of green snap, in which case the corn may prove more resilient to the storm's damage.

The storm also caused a great deal of grain bin damage, not so resilient.

From seeing the reports of wind damage from such a wide variety of spots in the Midwest, it would seem this damage could be quite significant, however, Market to Market reported on Friday that "Early damage estimates ran into the hundreds of thousands of acres, but current estimates amount to only about 10 percent of that amount."

According to KFGO, near Dysart, Iowa, "There is a 10-mile-wide swath here where the corn is flat; the beans are OK. Buildings are gone -- grain bins and machine sheds were obliterated. Elevators lost bins and their grain legs are done. It tipped over Harvestores, pulling the concrete right out of the ground. We were on the edge of the 1998 windstorm, but this is worse than that one was. I've never witnessed such destruction."

Of course, this followed the major flooding damage to the region, also destroying much corn acreage, giving Eastern Nebraskans a legitimate case for pessimism. Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated almost 40 Nebraska counties as disaster areas as a result of widespread flooding along the Missouri River and its tributaries this year. In addition, six counties in Iowa, six in South Dakota, three in Kansas and two in Missouri were designated as disaster areas.

On a positive note, another family member reports that corn looks excellent the entire distance in a drive from Denver to Lincoln, Nebraska yesterday. (That would be the Ogallala aquifer irrigated corn report.)

However, West and Central Nebraska are also reporting a great deal of crop damage which is storm related in this Kearney Hub news report released yesterday. "...have seen storm after storm batter, bruise and break crops, destroy farm buildings, uproot trees, and flip pivot irrigation equipment. You're talking millions and millions in damage."

Current fears are due to high day and night time temperatures reducing pollination, happening right now in many states. Last week, the DesMoines Register reported that "Agronomists and meteorologists agree that 86 degrees is the best condition for corn reproduction. Instead, the tassels and kernels will get temperatures averaging 95 degrees or more."

Today, Bloomberg reports 105 degrees in "parts of Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and Kentucky" and that "Corn crop yields may be reduced in Iowa, Illinois, Missouri and Kansas amid high temperatures and low rainfall."

Please leave a comment about the crop and weather conditions you are seeing in your neck of the woods.

To read more on the wind storm's damage and interpretation I recommend Stu Ellis.


  1. We live in Ozark, Missouri. The storms that moved through this area in the spring did extensive damage to crops. The unusual extreme temperatures we are currently experiencing are stressing the remainder of the crops that survived spring damage. We are using an excessive amount of water to keep our corn and other farm products healthy. We have lost a small portion of our poultry - Very rare for us and most likely attributable to the heat. I'm glad you posted something relating to conditions. The USDA appears to be out of touch with the reality of conditions. I cannot imagine that with the damage done by the spring weather and the excessive heat that corn, wheat and other crops will meet projected production expectations.

  2. Missouri:
    Sorry about your losses. You bring up another big subject due to this high heat - poultry losses which have been in the news.

    I have a few updates, also, to what I wrote above. I did find a news item saying that the Dysart IA area corn has recovered quickly.

    It sounds like seed corn fields and detasselers are especially in trouble.

    Some are also mentioning that the newest corn hybrids perform much better in heat conditions.