Hot and dry conditions have been impacting most of eastern Iowa over the last month. Scattered storms brought some relief late yesterday, but the crops are still thirsty in many parts of the state. Earlier crops planted in April and early May have deeper roots than those planted in late May and into June. The more mature corn is still being stressed by excessive heat and lack of moisture, but the shorter younger corn leaves are rolling and are very stressed as their root development is much shallower. So how did we go from one of the wettest springs on record to one of the hottest and driest growing seasons?
The term being used to describe the conditions we are experiencing lately is a “Flash Drought.” The difference between a normal drought and a flash drought are the length of time to reach drought stage. Typical droughts take several months to a year to develop whereas flash droughts occur within a one to two-month time frame. We have received below average precipitation coupled with above average temperatures that have rapidly depleted soil moisture levels taking us from one extreme to the other within two months.
As I write this a large storm is moving across Iowa bringing some much-needed rain, but temperatures are forecast to remain hot and humid through the weekend. As we know pollination is adversely affected by hot temperatures - extreme heat over the next few days may adversely impact some of the earlier planted fields.
One of the best ways to reduce weather stress on our crops is to improve our soil health. Reduced tillage allows for better soil structure, improved water infiltration, and increased soil organic matter. Cover crops used in tandem with reduced or no-till systems can help speed up the process of improving soil health and structure. With higher organic matter levels and improved soil structure comes the ability to be more resilient to extreme weather events, whether that’s excessive rainfall in the spring or hot and dry weather in the summer.
If you are interested in learning more about how you can increase your farms ability to be more resilient during these challenging times just click here and we will be happy to schedule a free consultation to discuss different approaches to increasing yields while improving soil health and total ROI for your farm!
Written By: Jeremy Sills, CCA