What’s been the impact of the lack
of rainfall on area crops?
Champaign crops saw less than an inch of rain on average last month, in one of the driest Junes on record.
“As far as the drought goes right now, it is serious, and it’s taking a toll on the yield,” said Paul Compton, Homer-based farmer. “In two weeks, when the corn pollinates, it could be even more serious.”
After a wet spring that delayed planting season for area farmers, a dry summer means the corn and soybeans need rain — and soon.
“We always joke you need an inch of rain to fill the cracks in the ground and another inch to actually help the crop,” said Shelby Weckel, partner at Ehler Brothers Co. in Thomasboro.
Many of the corn leaves you’ll see driving on county roads are “rolling;” curling up to protect the plant from losing too much moisture by reducing its surface area.
Of course, that means less direct sunlight to energize the plants.
“Leaves are a little bit like solar panels,” Compton said. “We need more growth at the top for the photosynthesis to work better.”
Like corn, soybeans are coming up short right now, and the canopies between their rows are taking time to develop.
“An inch of rain would be wonderful at this point,” Compton said.
Heading into pollination, farmers will be keeping an eye on the weather and crops to see if they’re ready for fungicide application.
“Overall, the crops have handled the heat pretty well, we won’t know how much we’ve been hurt until the yield. The crop genetics are built to handle the heat, much better than they used to,” Weckel said.
“But moisture is always key, if you don’t have rain, other processes don’t work.”