Conditions were very dry in Montgomery County on the 2021 Crop Tour.

Moisture haves and have nots showing up

By Matt Reese and Dave Russell

Most of Ohio had enough rain in the early part of the 2021 growing season (in some places too much). In the last 3 weeks or so, though, the rains have stopped in some areas. The Aug. 12 update from the U.S. Drought monitor has a large portion of southeastern and portions of western Ohio listed as “Abnormally Dry.”

This map was released Aug. 12 by the U.S. Drought Monitor. Yellow areas are “Abnormally Dry.”

Some of those dry conditions showed up in this week’s Ohio Crop Tour.

“The places we have been, I’d say Greene and Champaign counties have had more moisture than any other place we were, Fayette would be in there too. The western side of the state and back to Pickaway County was drier than what I imagined it would be,” said Bill Black, a Pickaway County farmer who participated in the in-person tour. “In Preble and Clark County we saw a few cracks in the ground and in Montgomery County it was by far the worst. The dryness definitely caught me off guard and I am amazed how much variability there was at each stop.” 

Meanwhile, northern scouts were dodging showers while doing yield checks. 

“I have been walking some corn fields and dodging some showers on and off. The corn is looking really nice. We have now gotten a couple of inches this week. There are some spots that have drowned out but they are nowhere near as bad as we expected they might be with the amount of rain we had through the month of July. The drier conditions during establishment helped the corn have a good root system and to be able to handle the higher rainfall we have had,” said Jason Hartschuh, Ohio State University Extension educator in Crawford County. “There is some disease pressure, higher than what we have seen in the past with both gray leaf spot and northern corn leaf blight, probably driven by the higher rainfall and humidity. A lot of these fields have been treated with fungicide.”

Statewide corn yields are looking consistently strong, due to good moisture in July. Soybeans are more variable, in part due to too much or too little moisture. 

“Except for the zero spots, corn yields in Crawford County have been looking really good. The lowest I have found across the county north to south and the lowest came in at about 170 bushels and the highest had a spot at 230 bushels,” Hartschuh said. “Soybeans are a lot more variable. We’ll find one area we’re it looks like mid-50s for yield and you walk another 30 feet to a lower area in the field and it looks more like 30 bushels per acre. They go from being 3.5 feet tall to a foot tall. There was some water damage early on while walking soybean fields. We are starting to find plants that are dead as you look through the canopy. Phytophthora took them out in those low areas. The soybean yields are going to be a lot more variable. In those shorter areas we could see 20-bushel yields.”

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