The scurs and the Weather Eye clicked for a third week in a row. Suddenly junkyards are being flooded with calls for used heater controls from AMC products. Who knew? Will the scurs continue to be bulletproof or are their days of being golden limited? Starting Wednesday, mostly cloudy with a good chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-70’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Thursday, partly sunny with an increasing chance for showers and thunderstorms by evening. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows around 60. Sunny and warmer Friday with highs in the low 80’s and lows near 65. Saturday, mostly sunny with a good chance of an evening shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the upper 80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Partly sunny on Sunday with highs in the low 80’s with lows in the upper 50’s. Monday, partly sunny with an increasing chance for showers and thunderstorms by evening. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the low 60’s. Mostly cloudy for Tuesday with a good chance for showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the low 50’s. The normal high for August 22nd is 80 and the normal low is 59. With a sudden break before the Stat Fair, the scurs are suddenly lost without a cause.
Crop progress continues to be steady. With sweet corn yields reported over 10 ton per acre in areas, it could be a very positive sign of things to come. Corn was beginning to show some dents already, especially on the ear tips, which still makes it R4 corn but is approaching R5 rapidly. Soybeans continued to operate within the R5 level of maturity with some of the early-planted, early-maturing soybeans beginning to show signs of R6, soybeans with full seed in the pod at one of the four uppermost nodes with a fully developed leaf. Soybean aphid control measures have been a mixed bag with some fields, especially those treated prior to threshold levels requiring retreatment. This is why waiting until threshold is a good idea. Thinking one can outsmart Mother Nature is a fool’s game, especially with a pest we have only slightly more than decade’s worth of experience with in the U.S.
Observations from the window of the oval office the other morning included the sighting of a bull thistle in the pasture. When one is an agronomist, one makes mental notes of such things since you don’t want the neighbors to think you’re some kind of slob. After chores, pursuit of the cirsium vulgare was on. Armed with my trusty bean hook, I was determined to make a quick end to the problem weed. In addition I also found plumeless thistles (Carduus acanthoides). Spellcheck really sucks, by the way, if you’re trying to write about anything agronomic, but I digress. Anyway, of course when you find one thistle you generally find a dozen without looking very hard. Thistles tend to bolt at varying times so no matter how hard one tries, there always seems to be another one showing up. And worst of all, you’ll probably miss one or two so your neighbors will still think you’re a slob.
The garden at the ranch continues to move along. More muskmelons arose from under the canopy of leaves and the sweet corn should be nearing perfection within the next week. Numerous squash and pumpkins are also evident as the vines begin to show signs of winding down as fall approaches. The tomatoes are beginning to behave as though their fruit will start to ripen once September draws near. Given the number of plants it should result in an avalanche of tomatoes. Cukes and string beans are continuing to produce, although they too are showing signs that without some rains in the near future, their eventual demise is certain.
The dogs continue their appreciation for air conditioning. When Mrs. Cheviot travelled south to the Iowa State Fair, Mr. Cheviot turned the AC back on. The humidity in the house had risen to unacceptable levels and Fudgie and Ruby weren’t sorry when the thermostat was dialed down to 75. Besides, with the Pro Farmer Crop Tour looming near on the horizon, Mr. Cheviot needed his beauty rest. After chores, the last thing needed was more panting from the dogs or Mr. Cheviot.
The Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour will be well underway by the time this reaches print, so those of you getting this electronically will be the beneficiaries of this preview. Things looked about the way through the windshield as I would’ve expected. Minnesota and Iowa on the route from home to the Illinois border looked general fantastic from the road. As we moved into Illinois from about Galesburg on, the corn crop in particular began to be up and down, not to mention nitrogen deficient. The appearance of the soybeans was more subtle with damage from excess moisture becoming more evident as we got closer to the Illinois and Indians border. Larger drown out spots were apparent and the crop was beginning to show signs that rain would be beneficial in areas. In Indiana, there was some decent looking corn and soybeans along with the same variability we’d seen in Illinois. Ohio was much the same from the Indians border to Columbus. What does that tell you? It tells you looking out the windshield, we really can’t know much other than physical appearance. That’s why we’re out here, to take an actual measurement of the crop yields as well as a close up and personal rating of its condition. Follow us on AgWeb.com and our Tweets on #pftour15 as we roll through the eastern Corn Belt to our final destination Thursday night in Rochester, MN.
See you next week…real good then.