Examining corn

Clark Yeager of Wapello County examines two ears of corn from one of his fields late Monday afternoon. He said the heat during this year’s growing season didn’t help the corn’s pollination. Some ears will fill out the kernels that are there, but a lot of cobs did not pollinate at all. Yeager said the kernels “won’t be deep” without more rain.

Many corn farmers are saying a prayer as they look at their corn fields and study a fresh ear.

This year’s heat during the growing season makes Clark Yeager of rural Ottumwa say he doesn’t like hot weather.

“Some ears look good, some don’t,” he said. “Some look good but didn’t pollinate well. So, it’s just a ‘wait and see’ situation.”

Some ears will do well in filling out the kernels that are there, but a lot of cobs didn’t pollinate at all, Yeager added.

Heat caused some pollination but some ears didn’t pollinate on one side.

“The kernels won’t be deep without rain,” Yeager said. “With other ears, it didn’t seem to matter if we got rain because they haven’t been good.”

Also, Yeager noticed neighbors nearby getting “pretty good showers.” He lives a few miles north of Agency, and some neighbors farther north in the county (near Farson) received 2 inches of rainfall.

Other neighbors lost some young calves to the heat.

“It’s sickening. You’d think a calf in the pasture could take the heat,” Yeager said.

The second cutting of hay is another crop that hasn’t done well because the weather has been too dry and hot.

Yeager said he’ll know what he has in the fields in about six weeks because that’ll be the time to harvest the corn.

Mark Carlton, a crop specialist with Iowa State University Extension Service, described the corn situation as “the good, the bad and the ugly.”

“But, it depends on the amount of rain and these rains have been so spotty,” he said. “Some areas got 2-3 inches of rainfall, which is enough rain to let crops withstand the hot temperatures.”

In other southeast Iowa areas, farmers only received one-quarter inch of rainfall.

Soybeans are doing better than many corn plants. Carlton said soybeans can adjust as the weather changes, so the recent rains will help the soybean plants.

“More rain would help a lot, and 2 to 3 inches isn’t too much,” he added.

Carlton also noted growers need to go out and check for spider mites, which are “making a showing.”

“This insect favors hot, dry weather and I’d like to see more people looking at their beans to see what’s out there,” he said.

If they see a short, stunted bean plant with a brownish color, he hopes they will check the plant for spider mites. He recommended putting a white paper plate under the plant’s leaves, shaking the plant and then checking the plate to see if there are “little bitty critters” on the plate.

Carlton said the mites will pierce the other side of the plant’s leaves and “basically suck out the plant’s nutrients in the water.”

“If the plants are already drought-stressed, they’re very noticeable,” he said. “The good news is cooler weather and some rainfall and that’s a positive.”

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