Weather outlook forecasting drier days ahead
By KRISS NELSON
Heavy rainfall amounts halted harvest across the state this week, and some are beginning to question if producers will have to wait for a freeze in order to complete the 2018 harvest.
There could be some positives moving forward in the forecast, but the damage could already be done as grain quality has been highly compromised with the recent heavy rainfall.
Where has all of this precipitation been coming from?
Justin Gilsan, state climatologist, said now that we are into the fall season, the jet stream becomes more active.
Gilsan explained that the temperature differences between Canada and the United States will affect the location of the jet stream and with the jet stream following the sun, combined with the days getting shorter and the seasons changing, the jet stream moves further south.
“We’re getting pretty big dips in the jet stream and the flow has been so stagnant, a persistent-type flow so we get what we call these ridge rivers,” he said, “and they’re just wave after wave of precipitation that just so happens to flow over the Corn Belt and effectively, Iowa.”
Starting this weekend and into next week, Gilsan said the outlook for precipitation is showing to be below average and has also been trending that way as well.
“The outlook seems to be looking better,” he said. “The last two to three weeks with tons of rain, the pattern has to shift and the outlooks are trending towards drier conditions statewide.”
He added there has been a bulls-eye over Iowa, calling for above average precipitation, which the state is seeing right now.
“It looks like the outlook was front loaded at the beginning of the month for precipitation, so now that we are starting to chip away at the higher probabilities, it looks like the second half of the month should be drier,” Gilsan said. “That probability looks to have come to fruition as we move forward for the month and these outlooks start to trend below normal precipitation. It gives us some sort of idea that the second half of October is going to be drier than it has been the first half.”
It’s obvious the 2018 growing season has had its fair share of challenges with precipitation, but just how much?
Angie Rieck-Hinz, Iowa State University Extension field agronomist, who serves north central Iowa, supplied some rainfall data from Jan. 1 through Oct. 7 from select areas she serves.
Clarion has received 54.28 inches, which is 25.42 inches above average. Fort Dodge has had 49.17 inches, which is 19.31 inches above average and Humboldt came in with 51.27 inches of rain, which is 23.18 above its average yearly rainfall.
What has all of this extra moisture done to the crops, especially recently?
“We went from a not a good situation this year to a bad situation,” she said. “It is beyond bad.”
Something those producers that have had flooded fields need to be aware of is adulterated grain.
Adulterated grain, according to information provided by Rieck-Hinz, is grain that is submerged by uncontrolled flood waters. It can’t be put in commercial facilities of any type where there would be a chance of entering human or animal food.
She said there is a distinction between uncontrolled water – which is waters from streams and rivers – versus ponded water in the field.
According to a publication titled “Management of flood-submerged grain” from the Integrated Corp Management department at ISU, “flooding is the flowing or overflowing of a field with water outside a grower’s control. Pooled water that is not reasonably likely to cause contamination of the edible portion of the fresh produce is not considered flooding.”
“If it’s just water standing in the field, that is not considered an uncontrolled source,” Rieck-Hinz said. “There are rules that designated between the two.”
She added the FDA updated its flooded food guidance on Sept. 17 and information on that can be found in the publication by visiting crops.extension.iastate.edu/cropnews/2018/09/management-flood-submerged-grain or acquiring a copy from your county’s ISU Extension office.
Rieck-Hinz said it is already known there is an issue with stalk quality.
“But we can’t do anything about it,” she said. “We can’t get out and combine any faster.”
What producers really need to be thinking about is grain quality.
“Ear rots, ear fungus, things that can lead to mycotoxins in the grain,” she said. “Depending on how we are feeding that, we can’t put that into certain animal food supplies.”
She added if there are 10 percent of the corn stalks or ears that are experiencing either stalk quality or ear molds, those fields should be prioritized for harvest as soon as possible.
“My experience is stalk quality is going downhill quickly, nearly everywhere, so we can’t prioritize fields for harvest when stalk quality is bad everywhere,” she said, “so maybe assess grain quality and harvest fields showing any moldy ears and get that grain dried quickly as possible to retard mold growth and the formation of toxins.”
More information on grain quality can be found by visiting: crops.extension.iastate.edu/cropnews/2018/10/crop-quality-hurt-rains.
Rieck-Hinz added producers need to then determine how to manage stored grain that has been affected by an ear rot.
“We want to get that grain harvested when we can and we want to get that corn dried down as quickly as possible without a wet-holding so we don’t increase the mold growth that could lead to toxins in the corn,” she said. “We’re just going to have to think about being sure we can manage stored grain at a very high level of management this year just to keep that grain quality as good as we can.
With the recent rainfall, soybeans have taken on moisture and it is unknown if they will dry down at all this fall.
Will they require drying?
Rieck-Hinz said that is a strong possibility.
“As my entire history as an agronomist, I do not every remember talking about drying soybeans,” she said. “This is the year we might have to look at drying some soybeans.”
If that is the case, ISU has created a publication on soybean drying and storage which can be found at: www.extension.iastate.edu/grain/files/Migrated/soybeandryingandstorage.pdf.
In the meantime, what is happening to those soybeans that are left out in the field?
Rieck-Hinz said it is very uncommon for the beans to be sprouting in the pod. In these situations, it’s most common to see pod shatter, the beans fall on the ground and then grow.
However, it has been reported beans are actually germinating in the pods this year.
“And it is highly likely those beans will be rejected,” Rieck-Hinz said. “So be prepared.”
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