COLUMBUS – Rain from the remnants of Hurricane Katrina arrived too late to benefit most of Ohio’s drought-stressed corn crop.
Because of the drought, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been asked to designate 72 Ohio counties as disaster areas, enabling affected farmers to apply for federal assistance.
Some fields are fine. But, despite the state of some cornfields, other fields are producing a decent crop that’s driving up the USDA’s yield projections.
“It’s a mixed bag,” said Peter Thomison, an Ohio State University Extension agronomist. “Some areas took a beating, but other areas are sitting on a good crop.”
He said some growers are saying this year is as bad as 2002, when at this time then, 13 percent of the crop was rated good to excellent condition.
According to the USDA, Thomison said 46 percent of the current crop is in good to excellent condition.
The USDA’s yield projection for Ohio as of Sept. 1 is 141 bushels per acre, up from 135 bushels per acre the previous month. By comparison, average yields last year were a record-breaking 158 bushels per acre.
Early harvest. Thomison said most of the corn crop is maturing too rapidly for the rains to have had any benefit, but added that the rapid maturation, due to warm, dry weather, will probably allow growers to harvest their corn earlier than anticipated.
With warm, dry conditions during this part of the growing season, about 1 percent of moisture is lost per day, he said, which is excellent for corn dry-down.
Because stalk quality is problematic this year, Thomison said prompt harvest is critical for avoiding major stalk lodging.
Indeed, a small percentage of growers are already harvesting their crop, specifically those fields that were severely drought-damaged.
Rain. While some of the late-planted corn may have benefited from recent rains, Thomison said the crop season is generally over for corn.
In fact, he said there may be some cases where the rain not only did not help, but was detrimental to the crop, fostering stalk rot.
Also due to the rain, some diseases, such as gray leaf spot and northern corn leaf blight, are showing up late in the season, Thomison said, but have arrived too late to cause any serious problems.
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