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DTN Field Roundup             07/07 12:30

   Farmers Eye Crop Development as Summer Turns Hot and Dry

   The summer heat is cranking up just as corn starts pollinating, soybeans 
flower and spring cereals start grain fill. 

Emily Unglesbee
DTN Staff Reporter

   ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) -- With crop fields simmering in the early July heat, 
some farmers are missing those soggy days of spring.

   "Too much rain early on was the hold-up; now we NEED rain and can't buy 
one," said Genny Haun, who farms in northwest Ohio. "I'm fearful crops will 
begin to go backwards if we do not get a measurable rain soon."

   It's a common summer tale, and one that was echoed by farmers across the 
country when DTN consulted its Agronomy Advisers this week, a group of trusted 
farmers and ranchers who report on crop conditions and current events in 
agriculture throughout the season.

   From Texas up to Ontario, and from Ohio out to the Rockies, farmers are 
watching the weather carefully as the corn crop enters the critical stage of 
pollination, soybeans begin flowering and spring cereals start grain fill.

   "Drought conditions have begun in the Northern Plains and in the Eastern 
Midwest and have intensified and spread in the Southern Plains," noted DTN 
Senior Ag Meteorologist Bryce Anderson. "In the Eastern Corn Belt -- Michigan, 
parts of Illinois, Indiana and Ohio -- soil moisture conditions have really 
tailed off from very saturated to now dry, even borderline drought. I've also 
heard comments from the southwest Plains that the pivots have been running 
almost non-stop since planting began."


   In some parts of the Corn Belt, soaring temperatures aren't worrying farmers 
just yet.

   "We have had 14 inches of rain in the month of June here in southeast Iowa, 
so we are going into this period of hot weather with a full tank of moisture," 
said Iowa farmer Mike Berdo. Likewise, in southwest Indiana, Scott Wallis 
caught a nice rain last week and his corn and soybeans are thriving.

   "The heat here is coupled with high humidity -- hard on humans but good for 
the crops," he noted.

   In parts of Missouri and Kansas, good subsoil moisture is keeping spirits up 
and crops healthy, but overly dry conditions are on the horizon.

   "The corn has recovered from a really wet spring, and it's nice to have the 
beans root down a little," noted north-central Missouri farmer Kyle Samp. 
"Nothing is hurting yet, but it won't be much longer before we are wanting a 
rain." In central Kansas, cool nighttime temperatures are keeping the worst 
effects of the July heat at bay, added farmer Kyle Krier.

   Minnesota farmers Justin Honebrink and Mark Nowak are also watching crops 
thrive in the summer sun -- thanks to a deep well of soil moisture -- but with 
an anxious eye toward dry conditions. "Another month might change my attitude, 
but for now it looks good," Honebrink said.

   Elsewhere, normal summer heat and dryness has tipped into drought.

   "Hot and dry is the storyline out here in the desert," said Texas Panhandle 
farmer and rancher Mike Lass. "The majority of dryland crops have failed."

   Pivots will be running hard in eastern Arkansas this month, farmer Charles 
Williams added. And in central Ohio, Keith Peters is grateful for the overgrown 
rye cover crop he struggled to terminate this spring, now that its residue is 
providing much-needed cover for soil moisture in his crop fields.  

   In Michigan and Ontario, farmers are watching crops start to go downhill.

   "With two weeks of 88- to 94-degree days, and no rain beforehand to help, 
corn is really starting to suffer," said southern Ontario farmer Dan Petker. 
"The heat stress and lack of significant rain couldn't have come at a worse 
time for the winter wheat and cereal rye crops. We had perfect conditions at 
pollination, but now during grain fill, we're seeing stress and fast die-off, 
rather than proper maturing."


   Farmers reported a range of crop development -- from brown silks in corn in 
Arkansas and cotton starting to bloom in Texas, to the first tassels poking out 
in Iowa and Indiana, and beans just starting to flower in Missouri.

   Winter wheat harvest is well underway, as well. Ohio's Peters expressed 
relief at how well his wheat fields had yielded, as he headed back into the 
field for double-cropped soybeans.

   As summer deepens, the pest spectrum is widening. The shiny backs of 
Japanese beetles are catching eyes in Missouri, Samp noted. "We'll have to keep 
an eye out for silk clipping again this year," he said.

   In Kansas, Kyle Krier is monitoring head worms in sorghum and soybean 
loopers on his soybeans.

   Armyworms marched through the northern Corn Belt with a vengeance recently, 
added Michigan's Simpkins and Ontario's Petker. And soil-borne insects were so 
intense in both states that they chewed through full insecticide doses coated 
on seeds in some fields, both noted.

   For others, weed pressure will be the season's biggest pest. Spray windows 
this spring and summer were limited by both weather and, in the case of 
dicamba, court decisions and state cutoff dates. 

   Pigweed plagues Arkansas' Williams, where Xtend crops still dominate the 
state despite Arkansas' continued use of restrictive cutoff dates for dicamba 
use. Farther north, waterhemp and marestail were at the top of Agronomy 
Advisers' problem weeds.

   "The weeds took off a little late, but once they did, they grew faster than 
expected," Minnesota's Honebrink noted. Fortunately, residual herbicides held 
up well in some of his fields, and he managed to clean up the fields where weed 
pressure broke through. A lot of work -- but no complaints, he concluded.

   "With everything else going on right now, the farming aspect of life is 
looking great," he said. "Hopefully, it stays that way through fall."

   Emily Unglesbee can be reached at

   Follow her on Twitter @Emily_Unglesbee

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