OTTUMWA — The ugly drought that has hung like a cloud over most of Iowa should not affect the crop yield as much as you would think, according to Mark Carlton, crop program specialist for the Iowa State University Extension in Monroe County.
Although some of the yields could still be affected, he expects most of the early-planted corn and beans around the area to be just fine when it comes to be harvest time.
The corn that has already been harvested, what he calls “snow corn,” has shown pretty good yields generally, a fact that is not all that surprising to Calton.
“It’s [good corn yields], not too surprising,” he said. “The early-planted corn probably was matured enough before the drought hit.”
Corn matures on a scale called heat units. Its maturity depends on the heat day after day. So, even though Iowa has not experienced much rain this year, the lower temperatures have kept the maturity of the corn at a reasonable pace.
Some of the replanted corn, though, still has a way to go, according to Carlton. The last time he checked on the corn planted later in the season was a few weeks ago, and, according to him, the crops were in their milk stages, which signifies they still have some time until they are fully mature.
The yields produced by the corn planted in the later season are based on when the first freeze comes in late fall. We will not know whether the corn matured well enough through the drought until the first frost hits, according to Carlton.
As far as the bean yield goes, most of the same applies. In the next few weeks there should be some bean yields starting to come up, Carlton said. The beans have to mature enough for their leaves to fall off, and there has to be enough time for them to dry out before they can be harvested.
“The earlier they were planted, the better they will be,” Carlton said.
Beans mature on more of a day-length scale than corn. So as long as the days are long, the nights are short and the frost stays away, there should be a good bean yield.
According to Carlton, the recent drought should not have too much of an impact on the crop yields as a whole. Of course, it did have some impact on the later-planted crops, but overall he expects the yields to be pretty good this year. Only time will truly tell.