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So far, crops safe from light frost

By Staff | Sep 18, 2014

PAUL KASSEL, an ISU Extension field agronomist, said on Sept. 4 that a light frost wouldn’t hurt things too much, but a 25-degree frost at this point in the growing season could give growers something to worry about.

SPENCER – Paul Kassel, an ISU agronomist for northwest Iowa, told Clay County fair-goers on Sept. 4 the soybean crop that day was seven to 10 days from maturity, and that an early September frost wasn’t going to hurt corn or soybeans too much.

Kassel said soybean pods are satisfactorily filled out and that he has seen plants that have four beans per pod toward the top of the plant.

Corn, he said, is also a week to 10 days from maturity, and that a light frost won’t be a danger to corn yield or quality.

He said a light frost wouldn’t hurt anything, but a 25-degree frost that kills the stalk would be more of a problem.

However, he said, a frost would begin the dry-down process, something producers are needing this fall as late as crops are maturing.

“If it gets down to 25 degrees and kills the whole plant it will probably do a little damage,” he said. “Our replanted crops will need all of September to mature.”

Kassel said even if replanted crops don’t offer much yield, they were useful as cover crops in competing with water hemp and other weeds that would otherwise take over barren ground.

He said weather has been cool since early July, and that the crops are 200 growing-degree units behind normal.

“But the crops aren’t as far behind as you would think,” Kassel said.

He said water hemp was the super weed this year and that it will remain that way until producers get it under control.

Kassel said one plant can produce a million seeds and those seeds can last several years, and that it has become Roundup-resistant. Some water hemp stands taller than corn stalks.

He said white mold has been a concern in soybeans this year, but told fair-goers that if they haven’t seen it by now in their soybeans, they probably won’t be seeing it this growing season.

Kassel said USDA reports show estimated corn yields at 171.7 bushels per acre, equaling 14.3 billion bushels of corn being harvested this fall.

The USDA estimates soybean yields at 46.6 bpa, coming out to 3.9 bb coming into the pipeline at harvest.

The biggest surprise of the season, he said, was the change in the drought monitor.

“On May 27, parts of Iowa were still in a moderate drought,” he said. “All that changed on June 14 when we got some rain, and then on June 16 we got 5 to 7 inches of rain all at once.”

From June 15 through June 18 some areas measured 5 to 10 inches of rain.

“It was a historic rainfall,” Kassel said.

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