Corn gets much-needed rain

Farm Forum

The rain was a welcome sight Monday morning for many farmers in northeast South Dakota after weeks of drought.

“The rain (Monday) morning and Sunday hit a lot of places that were missed (by other rains),” Greg Odde, who farms from Ellendale, N.D., to Huron, said Monday afternoon.

Some places in the area have gone 10 to 14 days without rain. And with the heat and wind, everything was in a critical state, he said.

“This rain couldn’t have been more timely,” Odde said.

Corn and soybeans are developing earlier than usual, as well.

“Corn usually tassels beginning in August, and it’s only mid-July,” Odde said, meaning harvest is likely to be comparatively early.

Laura Edwards, an SDSU Extension climate field specialist, said this time of year is crucial for crops, especially corn.

“Next week starts the pollination stage of corn, so it needs a lot of water,” Edwards said. “The rain we’ve gotten will soak in well and really help the crops.”

If it’s hot and windy during pollination, kernels won’t form. The couple inches of rain could mean the difference between having a crop and not having a crop, Odde said.

While this isn’t as critical a time for the soybean crop, Edwards said the rain is still beneficial.

“The soybeans are looking a lot happier,” Edwards said. “The last couple of weeks, they’ve been looking sparse, but now they are a lot more green. Their crucial time for rain is in August.”

But it’s probably too late to really help spring wheat, which will start being harvested in a couple weeks.

“It’s bad timing for wheat,” Odde said, since it’s already been damaged by the wind and high temperatures.

Corn and soybeans protect themselves from the heat and winds by rolling up their leaves during the day, he said. But corn will still need another round of rain, another 2 inches, in a couple of weeks, he said.

Edwards said the moisture was greatly needed.

“This rain is really improving the major drought we’ve been dealing with,” Edwards said. “We aren’t having any flooding in any of the fields, just some puddles. We got the perfect amount of rain.”

Odde has some standing water in a couple fields, but he’s expecting that to soak in soon.

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Rain totals: Sunday to Monday

• Aberdeen: 1.42 inches

• Britton: 2 inches

• Sand Lake: 2.94 inches

• Eureka: 1.13 inches

• Leola: 1.79 inches

• Webster: 1.45 inches

• Westport: 1.28 inches

Source: Ken Gillespie, National Weather Service meteorologist