|Crops suffering from heat wave
|Posted: Friday, July 6, 2012 9:05 pm
By KEVIN BOWDEN
Tim Smith told The Messenger Thursday afternoon he’s never seen a heat wave as severe as the one smothering Obion County this summer.
For almost three decades, he has worked for the Obion County office of the University of Tennessee Extension Service, presently serving as office director.
“It’s the driest summer I’ve seen in 28 years,” Smith said.
What that means for local farmers is bad news for their crops. Really bad news.
For the No. 1 county in the state in corn production, Obion County will be fortunate to achieve 50 percent of its potential corn yield this year, according to Smith.
Obion County has some 200,000 acres of row crop farmland.
Local farmers typically plant from 50,000 to 80,000 in corn — the crop that’s in the most danger from the heat wave.
Other crops in Obion County include:
• Soybeans — 95,000 to 130,000 acres.
• Wheat — 20,000 to 30,000 acres.
• Cotton — 2,000 to 5,000 acres.
• Grain sorghum — about 2,000 acres.
Obion County’s wheat harvest occurred last month and farmers are now focused on planting beans in their wheat fields.
“We did well this year,” Smith said about the wheat harvest. “We had an excellent crop of wheat.”
The next harvest in the county will be corn, and that harvest is going to come early — around mid-August — due to the heat wave.
“Our corn has been severely impacted,” he said.
He inspected a corn field just outside Union City Thursday afternoon and walked between rows about four feet tall with dried-out stalks and ears of corn that are suffering from a severe lack of moisture.
A significant rainfall within the next week might help the local corn crop some, but would really improve the soybeans, Smith said. Otherwise, it’s going to be a bad year for corn.
Other row crops in Obion County aren’t in as bad shape as the corn, but they still need rain.
“Our beans are surprisingly holding on fairly well considering all things,” Smith said.
Farmers will begin harvesting their bean crop in mid- to late-September, except for those farmers who planted early-maturing varieties, and those crops will be harvested starting the end of August.
Cotton harvesting will begin in September, and Smith said the local cotton crop hasn’t been affected as much as the corn crop.
However, he said the cotton crop “is at a very critical stage right now.”
Then there is the grain sorghum crop, which is harvested after the corn harvest.
“It can tolerate stress a little better than corn,” Smith said.
There is some relief on the horizon for farmers and everyone in Obion County. The local weather forecast for this area is calling for an increasing chance of rain into early next week.
Published in The Messenger 7.6.12