Too much water impacts crop quality


A week ago I traveled to central Illinois to a swine event. To say the least, Mother Nature has cast an evil spell on the whole Midwest. The common denominator across the roads I traveled was too much water! Amazingly there are some crops in certain fields that still look very good from Ohio to Illinois.

While out there I had the opportunity to see a lot of farm land in my travels and I got to visit with many producers about crop conditions. All producers I spoke with said the same thing, “dry weather would be much appreciated to get hay made, herbicides applied for weed control and hopefully get wheat harvested.”

Visually, there are many fields along the way that show quite a bit of water stress. In speaking to many producers in states west of here, the one thing you can’t see from the road is the number of corn acres that have received no or very little nitrogen.

A friend in eastern Illinois thought at least 60 percent of the corn acreage in his three- or four-county area had not been side-dressed with nitrogen and probably would not. The effects of not getting nitrogen on many fields of corn this year will not be fully recognized until harvest.

Here locally, the storm a week ago hurt more than 2,000 acres. Hail, wind and of course excessive rain damaged many acres. In evaluating things this past Monday, I thought it was still too early to get a good feel on how extensive the damage is.

Corn in the “Hail Damaged” area I think will come through better than soybeans. The corn hit with hail has some stalk bruising that may lead to stalk issues later in the season. Most corn appears that it will be able to tassel normally even though several leaves are torn and tattered.

The corn that was blown over concerns me the most. This corn that was also hit with hail exhibits excessive bruising on the stalk. If it does stand back up straight it may have stalk quality issues later in the season.

Soybeans that were hit with hail show moderate damage to severe damage. Plants that were totally stripped of leaf matter are probably wiped out. The problem is on the beans that have been moderately defoliated. Until we get a few more days of recovery, the extent of stem damage is unclear. They look OK today but if the stems are damaged more than we think, these beans too will start to collapse.

If you have crops in this area of the county, try to wade through the mud and get a good assessment of crop damage. I am sure that many of you have been speaking with your crop insurance and crop adjusters. This type of damage can’t be assessed from the road. What might look good or bad in the front half may look the opposite in the back half.

Another part of the equation is to evaluate possible replant scenarios for soybeans. Spend this time evaluating and pushing the pencil. It will also be critical to work with your crop insurance company to decide if replant is an option at this point.

Lastly this week, the Clinton County Soil and Water Conservation District announces that farmers in the East Fork Lake watershed may now sign up for financial assistance to help put in place conservation practices to help keep sediments and nutrients on farm fields and out of the lake. Since 2012, East Fork Lake has experienced growing problems with harmful algae blooms thought to be caused by excess nutrients-mostly nitrogen and phosphorus-that come from agricultural fields, as well as failing septic systems, wastewater treatment plants and urban runoff.

Any farmer within the East Fork Lake watershed that is interested in participating in this program should contact the Clinton County USAD Service Center at 937-382-2461 ext. 108. The deadline to submit an application for funding is Friday July 17, 2015.

Tony Nye is the state coordinator for Small Farm Programs and an OSU Extension educator, agriculture and natural resources, for Clinton County and the Miami Valley EERA.