Dry Run Creek Watershed Crop & Weather Report

August 15 to September 7, 2013

This report is intended to provide farmers with crop and weather information to help in making cropping decisions. This is the final report for the season.

Weather: For late August and early September, rainfall varied across the Dry Run Watershed. Western areas received only a trace of rainfall while eastern portions received 0.5 of an inch of rain on August 30th. Total August rainfall at the Dry Run weather station was 0.8 inches. The 30 year average rainfall in August is 4.64 inches.

Rainfall totals from April to August (13.5 inches) were about 5 inches below normal (19.14 inches). However, since June 18, the watershed has received only 2 inches of rain. At the Dry Run monitoring station, there were nine runoff events before June 18. There has not been a runoff event since. Soil moisture levels this fall are at the same levels as they were last fall.

As the 2013 growing season comes to an end, it is interesting to note that growing degree days (2298) are close to normal (2200). Most producers would say the weather this year was anything but normal! From August 19th to the 30th, daily highs were above 80 degrees, with several days above 90 degrees. These temperatures were the hottest of the growing season.

Alfalfa: Harvest of third crop alfalfa is almost complete. Avoid harvesting stands intended for production next year until after nighttime temperatures are consistently in the lower 20’s (usually mid-October). Topdress potash on fields with soil test levels below 150 ppm. Alfalfa needs large amounts of potassium in the fall to replenish nutrients used during the growing season and to prepare the crown for cold, winter soil temperatures.

Corn: Corn maturity ranges from the R2 to R5 stage (dent). At the R5 stage, the kernels form a “dent” on the exposed side of the kernel as moisture levels decrease. Plants still need approximately 15 days to attain 50% kernel milk stage. After this stage, grain yield losses from an early frost or drought stress will be minimal. Kernel moisture will go from 55% at early dent to 30% at maturity (black layer). Whole plant moisture will decrease from 75% to 55 % during this same timeframe. Corn silage harvest has begun on fields suffering from drought stress. Whole plant moisture levels ranged from 60 to 70%, even in severely drought stressed corn.

Soybeans: Soybean maturity ranges from the R3 to R7 stage (beginning maturity). At the R7 stage, at least one pod has turned brown. It takes roughly 10 days for plants to advance one stage (e.g. R4 to R5). Plants attaining the R7 stage will have minimal yield losses from an early frost or drought stress. Non irrigated fields are suffering moderate to severe moisture stress.

Small Grains: Consider planting winter wheat or rye this fall on fields that were prevented plant acreage or harvested as corn silage. The best time to seed is during September. To minimize cost and soil disturbance, seed with a no-till drill or surface broadcast the grain and then topdress with liquid manure (6000 gallons/acre). There are several options for managing these grains next spring:

  • Harvest as forage in early May, then plant corn, soybeans or alfalfa.
  • Kill with a herbicide to provide moisture retaining cover crop during growing season.
  • Harvest grain and straw for cash crop and to diversify crop rotation.

Todd Prill – Certified Agronomist   (715) 225-0862   discovery.farms.prill@gmail.com

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