Too Much of a Good Thing

Many regions throughout the Midwest are experiencing too much of a good thing these last couple of weeks. While moderate temperatures have tended to prevail, the rains haven't abated. One of our fields just North of Champaign has seen almost 22 inches of Rainfall already this season.

Of significant concern to many growers has been their inability to get post-emergence herbicides on fields, particularly soybeans. Although there were a few fields where herbicides just didn't get applied in the rushed planting season, there are also many fields where the rains may have diluted pre-emergence herbicides to a point where rescue treatments are now necessary. The overly wet soils have left a lot of growers trying to figure out what equipment it will take to get some post-emergence herbicides on their fields. We are now finding that there are some fields, particularly in river-bottom areas and some areas on high-clay soils, that may not get planted this season due to the recurring rains.

The 'perpetually' wet soils may cause other deleterious effects. Anhydrous may not get side-dressed. Essential nitrogen can be leached from soils or lost through anaerobic conversion to N2. And many crop diseases become much more prevalent in wet soil and high humidity environments. We also find that water-logged soils result in stunted plants, as they are unable to maintain their nutrient uptake mechanisms in anaerobic conditions. Wherever plants become stunted due to saturated soils full recovery becomes unlikely regardless of the ideal weather that may follow.

Of the two crops which are most widely planted in this wet region, corn and soybeans, it may be soybeans that suffer the most. Anaerobic soils retard nodule development and nitrogen fixation. Although plants will green up when the weather turns favorable, yields may already have suffered.

On a final note; although hay production throughout the central cornbelt tends to be a secondary crop, where it is grown the rains have seriously affected the quality of this season's crop. Some alfalfa and legume/grass mixture have been cut late and may have lain for several days exposed to rains and high humidity.

Find out your rain totals with Rainfall in Morning Farm Report, and stay on top of upcoming weather with our weekly forecast videos: