'Flash drought' hurts young corn plants
“There's nothing a farmer can do,” Wiebold said. “It just takes rain.”
Guinan holds out hope from a cold front that may bring some rain to northern Missouri within the week.
On Memorial Day another cold front could drop south into Missouri, bringing needed rain. The front could stall over the state and bring day-to-day chances of rain next week.
“It would be the perfect antidote,” Guinan said.
Wiebold said, “It's hard to predict what will happen to corn yields. If we have rootless corn and plants fall over, the corn could be a total loss. If rains come, roots can grow.”
However, long before the corn ear sets silks and stalks tassel, the number of potential kernels on each ear of corn is being determined. Early drought affects the number of rows of kernels on an immature corncob.
Then, droughts in early July can affect how long that cob grows, how many kernels are set and how much they fill. All affect yield.
“In polling my fellow agronomists, I've had estimates of total loss to something just short of a bumper crop,” Wiebold said.
Dry weather affects other crops as well. Uneven stands of soybean result from lack of soil moisture, Wiebold said. “I've seen tall soybeans, short soybeans and no soybeans in the same row.” At planting some seeds found moisture and came right up. Other seed waited for rain. Some, seed never received moisture.
“The worst thing that happens is to get 1/10 of an inch of rain after planting in dry soil,” Wiebold said. “That's enough to germinate seed, but not enough to grow roots.”
Wiebold said wheat is ripe. “I'd never seen wheat harvest in May. It looks good. But, seed heads may not be full.”
Rob Kallenbach, MU forages specialist, said pastures are growing at half normal rates. “Some high quality hay was baled early, as rain didn't fall on it during drying.”
The weather will determine the crops, as always.
Guinan had the final word on the flash drought: “Let's hope it goes away as fast as it arrived.”