The scurs had the Weather Eye dialed in on some beautiful weather this past week, with some rain to finish the week. Will their sticky fingers from cotton candy at the fair translate into more sticky weather and fat man warnings, or will we see damp and cooler?
Starting Wednesday, partly sunny with a modest chance of a daytime thunderstorm. Highs in the upper 80’s with lows in the mid-70’s. Thursday, mostly sunny and warmer with highs in the low 90’s and lows in the mid-70’s. Mostly sunny and slightly cooler Friday with a modest chance of an evening shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the mid to low 90’s with lows in the upper 60’s. Saturday, mostly sunny with a slight chance for showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid-80’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Mostly sunny Sunday with highs in the low 80’s and lows in the low 60’s. For Monday, mostly sunny with a slight chance for showers or thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the mid-60’s. Mostly sunny for Tuesday with a chance of a shower or thunderstorm. Highs in the low 80’s with lows in the mid-60’s.
On the 20th we slip back below 15 hours of daylight, having lost 29 minutes of the precious commodity since the summer solstice. The normal high for the July 20th is 82 and the normal low is 62. The scurs know it won’t be long and the yellow livestock haulers will soon be making their appointed rounds.
Much of the corn crop in the area has been in the process of pollination this past week. Those earliest planted fields appear to have pollinated well, although the crop is shorter in stature than some years. That means little as far as yield and may be a positive when it comes to dry-down and tillage in the fall. Soybeans are well into R3 and in some of the earliest planted fields are R4 with pods more than 3/4” long at one of the four uppermost nodes. The fields planted in 30” rows are nearly touching and should have the rows closed in many cases next week.
Some have asked whether the heat will affect the crops and the general answer is no. If the duration of this hot spell is short, as predicted, the impact should be minimal given the generous and timely rains we’ve been receiving. With the old rule of thumb that we need roughly an inch of rain per week for optimal yields, we are right on track or ahead of that schedule in much of the area.
Indeed we are in good shape at this point for soil moisture. At the ranch for the month of July we have recorded 6.02” of rain and at the Mall for Men, at 4.35” as of 7/18. The stretch of relatively dry weather from mid-June to just after the 4th used up a fair amount of soil moisture and gave us more room to operate in the profile. Interestingly at the SROC, the soil moisture measured on July 5th was just under 6” available in the top 5’ after having been nearly 10” on 6/17. There were some warm windy days that made the rapidly growing crop pull hard on the moisture in that timeframe as evidenced by the corn rolling on those hotter late June afternoons.
The garden continues to flourish as do the weeds it contains. The weeds were well controlled as recently as July 4th but some cooler temperatures and rainfall have allowed a bountiful crop of lambsquarters, waterhemp and redroot pigweed to gain a foothold. Otherwise it looks satisfactory. A bunny fence was erected to protect the late planted string beans and the first planting is just starting to flower. Some of the cukes need to be checked over as they’ve had some prolific blooms for at least 10 days. They’re sneaky about hiding the cucumbers under the canopy only to be found when they already contain seeds. They become sheep food at that point as they’re not as fussy as I am.
One plant that has drawn a fair amount of comment and concern locally is the yellow topped weed showing up in large amounts in area road ditches and along the abandoned railroad tracks. The plant I’m referring to is wild parsnip and the infestations have increased over the past several years. It is of Eurasian origin and may or may not have been brought here on purpose. The root is edible. Wild parsnip is in the parsley or carrot family and is generally considered a biennial, although some may categorize it as a short-lived perennial. Typically it exists as a basal rosette the seedling year, bolting and producing yellow flowers on a tall stalk with an umbel or umbrella shaped inflorescence the next summer.
The plant is toxic containing a chemical called furocoumarin. It produces blisters on human skin as well as causing blisters and photosensitivity (sunburn) in livestock especially on lighter colored skin. The plant is toxic in all stages of growth whether consumed fresh or dried in hay although concentrations of furocoumarin decrease as the plant reaches maturity. Fortunately it is not very palatable and may be consumed only if other feed sources have become exhausted in a pasture scenario. For control repeated mowing may be helpful although while mowing once the plants have bolted may help reduce seed production, it may actually allow better conditions for the rosettes to establish themselves. Control of this weed is best achieved in most cases chemically when the plants are in the rosette stage. Products such as 2,4-D for broadcast spraying and glyphosate for localized application are most effective. Repeated applications over a number of years may be necessary to reduce the amount of seedstock in the soil to achieve long term control.
Just a short note after spending several days this past week cruising in the Silver Hawk and trying to keep up with Vista’s noted Swedish astronomer in his ’58 Ford: Participated in a couple weekend car shows and enjoyed them thoroughly. These shows to some extent are becoming more like mobile museums than car shows. They routinely feature now extinct companies such as Mercury, Rambler and Plymouth. The 1929 Buick the gentleman from Owatonna restored reminded me of the wagon my Dad had made from the chassis of the ’28 or ’29 he once owned. Looking at the cars is a blast. I can spend hours at it. What I enjoy most though about the shows is visiting with people. Several of us have turned trying to remember people’s names into a team sport. It’s always fun to talk about bugs and weeds in addition to automobile history. I was particularly flattered at the Waseca show that a salesman who’d sold us several automobiles many moons ago stopped and reintroduced himself. He wondered how the cars he’d sold us worked out and they were quite honestly among the most reliable vehicles we ever purchased. He liked the Silver Hawk and as it turns out he’s also a fan of reading the column as is his wife. Always nice to know it’s not just for starting fires, fish wrap and lining bird cages anymore.
See you next week…real good then.