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Summer 2024 weather and crop outlook
Dr. Victor Martin

The drought monitor report as of Tuesday, June 25 shows a bit of backsliding in drought conditions overall for the state. The percentage of the state totally out of dry conditions decreased from 44.5% to 39%, however, the percentage in moderate and severe drought decreased. Our area ranges from abnormally dry to a sliver of severe drought. 

The six to ten-day outlook (July 2 to 6) indicates a 50 to 70% chance of likely above normal temperatures and leaning from normal to a bit above normal for precipitation. The eight to 14-day outlook (July 4 to 10) indicates a 50 to 70% chance of likely above normal for temperatures and a continued 33 to 40% chance of leaning above normal precipitation. The area really needs above normal precipitation with some corn in the area already tasseling and silking. Soybeans are also preparing to take off and soon begin flowering, entering their peak water usage soon.

Monday is July 1st. Today let’s conduct a brief review of crop status and the summer weather outlook. First, compared to the last several years, crop conditions overall are much better. While not looking at bumper crops, the potential is there for a decent to good year. First, what does the Climate Prediction Center think the rest of this year might look like.  

• July through September isn’t promising with a 40 to 50% chance of leaning to above normal for temperatures and below normal for precipitation. July is especially important for corn as some has already flowered and much will be within the next two weeks. Even under irrigation in our area, it can be almost impossible to prevent heat and water stress. The evaporative demand during this period of development ranges from 0.35 to upwards 0.5 inches a day or the crop needing an inch of soil water every two to three days. Even the best well and system is hard pressed to keep up. One day of stress can cost three percent of yield. Two consecutive days around eight percent. And three can easily cost over eleven percent yield loss. In our area, the combined yield loss, as compared to the yield potential, is typically over 80 bushels per acre. Even under irrigation, the potential yield loss is often significant.  Milo will typically start heading towards the end of July and into August for most so its peak demand is a bit later. For soybeans, seed development of fill is typically at its peak starting in August through early September. Although tough conditions now can significantly decrease the flowering period and number of pods.

• August through September is essentially more of the same. This will have the greatest negative consequences for milo and soybeans. It also presents a challenge for those wishing to establish alfalfa fields, especially under dryland conditions.  

• If these long-term outlooks are correct, and they can and do change, it will be extremely important to control weeds while minimizing tillage to conserve soil moisture. On the plus side, recent rains should help germinate volunteer wheat and allow for its control. The challenge for many is the recent rains have caused a flush of weeds such as pigweed species, making control more difficult.

Dr. Victor L. Martin is the agriculture instructor/coordinator for Barton Community College. He can be reached at 620-792-9207, ext. 207, or