In the beginning of June, Eric told me, “It’s dry. We need two inches of rain each week for the next two months to catch up.” Well, as you know, that hasn’t happened.
In early July, our friend Kathy took us to share in some of her childhood memories around Delhi. As we drove I said to Eric, “It doesn’t look that bad out in the fields.” Eric turned to me and said, “Yes it does.” Giving me a look implying, “Did you grow up in Iowa??”
“Really? What am I missing?”
“Well, the corn is short, the tassels are out and some of it is dead.”
I sheepishly asked, “What does that mean? Outside of the dead part.”
“Well, the plants are stressed. They are trying to reproduce before they die. The tassel usually doesn’t show until later in the season. The tassels is the male flower, the ear contains the silk, which is part of the female flower. Each silk generates a kernel of corn. It’s not good, the yield of kernels is going to be low. So a field looks normal, but it’s so stressed that the ears are small. We are going to start hearing about decrease yield soon.”
Over the next two weeks, as I have had to drive around Iowa for my full-time job, I have been looking at corn fields. The corn is still short. The ears that are forming are small. The stalks look like pineapples, all turned in on itself, as the stalk is trying to protect it’s self from more sun and no rain. Now you can easily see death in the fields. Last weekend we started to hear about whole fields being tilled under.
Last night we spent some time looking at yield predictions. I asked Eric, “Like you were telling me, the talk isn’t in field death, they talk in terms of decreased yield, right?”
“Yep. At this point, it’s not about total fields dying, which actually is happening now, it’s about the size of the ears of corn and the kernel yield.”
As many of you are following the news as well, the prediction is that yield will be down 40-50% percent. Right now we have not reached the stage we were at in 1988, if we pass 50%, we will pass 1988’s production and have the worst drought in 56 years.
We at Salt Fork Farms are grateful that we put in irrigation this year. We are sad to watch the fields that surround our house look browner and browner, not by the day, but by the hour at this point. Overall, what does this mean for SFF? Well, we are like the rest of you. We will wait and see what happens with grain prices. Since we buy feed in bulk we may have to reconsider raising poultry in the future. Thankfully, that decision is still in the future.
Stay cool and pray for rain.
P.S. Offerings at the market this week will be: Eggs, Broilers, Cabbage, Beets, Broccoli, Scallions, Potatoes, Garlic, Cucumbers, Squash, Okra, Beans, Chard, Collards. See you there!