Tom Hall, Senior Agronomist, Rooster Strategic Solutions

It’s “Report Card time” for farmers. If harvest is the ultimate measure of a growing season, July is the semester break in corn and bean country, where we look at our progress, especially our ability to control weeds and bugs. If the report is poor, you can expect neighbors at the local coffee shop to point out how weeds are poking above the soy canopy and/or corn is leaning due to pressure from corn rootworms (CRW). There’s still time for a late-season spray pass before canopies close.

For corn growers, the last big decision in July is whether to use a fungicide. If a farmer is lucky enough to have had rain in June, they may want to use a fungicide around tasseling or just a bit later to control tar spot or gray leaf spot. Tar spot lesions like the ones pictured below that have fully taken over the ear leaf and are working their way up the plant need to be treated. Plants covered with lesions and left untreated can suffer 50-percent yield loss – or may die outright – because of the lack of energy for grain fill.

In wheat country, it’s final report card time. As combines were completing harvest through the middle of July, reports from Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas were not encouraging; drought and heat have combined to knock back yields 30 to 50 percent. With wheat prices over $9 per bushel, farmers will still make up for some of this yield loss thanks to excellent prices. But it’s disheartening to know that many around the globe are starving because of the Russian blockade of Ukrainian wheat, and American farmers won’t be able to fill much if any of this gap.

Drought through the Great Plains continues to linger as shown in the U.S. Drought Monitor Map, below. The largest reservoir in the U.S, Lake Meade, is now at 25-percent capacity, which has an impact on both water use and the production of electric power throughout the west. We also need to watch carefully for early signs that the drought may be building in the Midwest at a critical time for pollination and fill time for corn and soybeans.