Dry Conditions Affecting Soybeans, Corn

While the state officially designated Columbus County in a moderate drought Thursday, the dry conditions weren’t news to area farmers.

“The drought has been a challenge across much of the state this year,” said Lydia Miles, Row Crops Agent with Columbus County Cooperative Extension. “While there is no doubt that much of the corn and soybeans in Columbus County are struggling, I don’t think that we are to the point that we need to consider replanting as of yet.”

The most recent figures from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture show that in 2023,  Columbus County had 49,224 acres in soybeans, 33,985 acres of corn, and 3,032 acres planted in hay and other forage. The 2023 harvest showed 3.8 million bushels of corn harvested here, with an average of 128 bushels per acre.

Some areas of the state are seeing conditions similar to the severe droughts of 2007 and 2011, when production plummeted. Miles said area crops are on still viable, but the situation is critical.

“You’ll see many stunted fields out there that are already tasseling but, short corn can still make a crop,” she said. “The challenges now will be if a corn crop approaching the reproductive stage achieves synchronization (meaning that it tassels and silks at the same time).”

Tassels and silk must occur at the proper time for corn to develop kernels. Pollination must occur at the proper synchronization to produce a viable crop. Without the right combination of moisture, stalk growth and synchronization, yields are significantly lower.

Another concern is “keeping enough moisture in the ground to avoid desiccation of the ear leaf.

“Of course in a year where conditions are poor, yields will not be record breaking by any means.”

The brief rains of earlier this week brought some relief to area farmers, but not enough, Miles said.

“We were given a little reprieve from the drought with the rain that came on Tuesday but if we don’t get more shortly we will continue to struggle.”

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Jefferson Weaver is the Managing Editor of Columbus County News and he can be reached at (910) 914-6056, (910) 632-4965, or by email at [email protected].