Across the 18-state Corn Belt, 48 percent of the corn crop was rated either poor or very poor while only 24 percent is rated good to excellent in the Aug. 1 USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service report.
Conditions are a bit better in Texas, where 50 percent of the crop is rated good to excellent and only 15 percent is considered poor or very poor. In Northeast Texas, as harvest closed in on the halfway mark, growers were typically cutting 100 bushels per acre and better on dryland acreage last week.
In Oklahoma, only 35 percent of the 2012 crop was considered good to excellent, and 35 percent was rated poor or very poor.
And the oppressive heat continued across the Southwest and much of the Midwest, further stressing prospects for corn and other crops. Particularly vulnerable are the still immature crops in the middle of the country where weekly temperatures generally averaged 5 to10 degrees above normal in a broad area stretching from thecentral and southern Plains into the Midwest. Multipletriple-digit days were noted in parts of Indiana,Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, and on the Great Plains from South Dakota to Texas. In contrast, enough rain fellacross the northern Corn Belt to help stabilize or even improve crop conditions in somefields, according to NASS reports.
Corn conditions across the 18 main corn producing states for the week ending July 28 were: very poor 23 percent; poor 25 percent; fair 28 percent; good 21 percent; and excellent only 3 percent.
In Texas, precipitation was spotty as most areas of the state received only traces of rainfall. Portions of Central and West Texas recorded 1.5 to 3 inches of rain, according to NASS.
Corn in the Northern High Plains suffered heat stress as irrigation could not meet moisture demand in some areas. In the Northern Low Plains and Coastal Bend, reports of acres being disastered out by insurance companies increased.
Texas corn was rated: 12 percent excellent; 38 percent good; 35 percent fair; 10 percent poor and 5 percent very poor.
David Gibson, executive director of the Texas Corn Producers Board in Lubbock, says even with drought conditions across much of the state, “conditions are way better than last year in Texas. Of course we could still have a disaster and be better than last year.”
Gibson says much of the Texas corn crop benefitted from late May and early June rainfall. “Corn is better than expected in some areas.” The Northern Blacklands crop, he said, is probably the best in the state, compared to normal, and growers may make a bit more than usual. The Upper Coast region is next best followed by the Texas Panhandle.
“The Panhandle was in pretty good shape, maybe a little better than average, but 100-degree temperatures the past two weeks took the top off yield prospects,” Gibson said.
The Lower Rio Grande Valley has a decent crop, about average, he said, as does the Brazos Valley.
He said the Lower Coastal Bend, from Corpus Christi south and west, is one of the worst areas for corn in the state. “They just never got started. Drought hit the corn crop hard.”
The percentage of Texas corn rated excellent is likely to drop with the next update, he said. But he expects little change in the very poor category since much of the crop is either harvested, made or nearing maturity.
Texas producers planted 1.9 million acres of corn this year, down from 2.3 million in 2011. Gibson expects harvested acreage—either for grain or for silage—to be 85 percent of planted acres.
The state remains dry. Annual rainfall so far this year shows a range of 5.67 inches in the Upper Coast to a low of 0.95 in the Trans Pecos. Northeast Texas rainfall accumulation totaled 4.73 inches from January 1 through July 29. Typical annual rainfall average, based on measurements from 1971-2000, shows an average of more than 58 inches for the Upper Coast and more than 48 inches for Northeast Texas.
The Texas High Plains typically receives 19.64 inches of rainfall per year; this year’s total is 1.21. The Low Rolling Plains annual average is 24.51 inches. This year the area has received only 1.78. In South Central Texas, where farmers typically count on 24.08 inches of rainfall, they are getting by on 1.80 so far this year. The Lower Rio Grande Valley typically receives 25.43 inches of rainfall but had accumulated only 1.58 by July 29.
Temperatures continued to soar across Oklahoma last week. The average temperature for each of the nine climate districts ranged from 85 to 90 degrees, with average highs from 99 to 104 degrees, according to NASS. Inola recorded 110 degrees on Sunday, which was the warmest day of the year statewide, according to Mesonet data.
Substantial rains fell in northwest and southeast Oklahoma. The Idabel Mesonet site measured 4.17 inches of rain. However, nearly half of the Mesonet stations received no rainfall this week and three Oklahoma stations received no measurable rainfall for the month of July. The U.S. Drought Monitor for July 24th showed half of the state in an extreme to exceptional drought.
Oklahoma corn conditions are rated: very poor, 14 percent; poor 21 percent; fair 30 percent; good 34 percent; and excellent, 1 percent.