Archive for Thursday, September 21, 2000

Heat impacts local crops

September 21, 2000

Harvesting soybeans is always a dusty job. But the size of the dust storm Roy Bowlin stirred up as he ran his combine over fields near the Kansas River Thursday offered testimony to what drought conditions have done to this year's crop.

"It's not the best in the world," Bowlin said of his yields. "It was too hot and dry."

Dean Heise, manager of DeSoto Feed and Grain, said soybean yields of 15 bushels per acre are common. In a normal year, farmers can expect to get 25 to 30 bushels per acre and 40 to 50 in the Kaw River's bottomland.

The drought has also affected the quality of soybeans. Area elevators are docking farmers from 20 cents to $2 a bushel, Heise said.

"I've docked up to $1 a bushel," he said.

The drought came at a time when producers face low commodity prices and high energy costs, Heise said.

But it wasn't all bad news for area farmers this summer. Heise said corn was largely unaffected by the dry conditions and yields were good.

While his elevator doesn't receive much milo, Heise said that crop appears to be yielding spotty results. Milo planted early last spring did much better than that planted late.

Drought-stressed lawns and trees need rain, said Johnson County Extension horticulturist Dennis Patton.

But he added we shouldn't be concerned about a lawn carpeted by dead leaves. Trees cope with heat stress by dropping leaves, Patton said, and property owners shouldn't give up on the sickest looking trees until next spring.

Those with less patience can test the health of their trees by bending smaller twigs and branches. A supple twig means the tree is still in good shape, Patton said. Also, the presence of green, healthy buds indicates the tree will snap back with rain.

"Most mature trees will be OK," he said. "Those less than five years old may need additional moisture. Most of the trees you see in nature will survive."

Some lawn grasses have died while others have merely gone dormant from the heat, Patton said. Again, only moisture and time will determine which applies to individual lawns, he said.

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