Five questions: Heat cropping
Q: This summer’s heat and rain seems to be helping growth with many plants more than last year’s cool and wet summer. Is that true?
A: “The heat is definitely better than the cool weather for many of our common landscape and garden plants,” Smith said. “As temperatures increase — to a point, of course — so do many of the internal processes in a plant. So, photosynthetic rates increase and result in more plant growth. The amount of increase is exponential, too.”
Q: For the past month, the corn and soybeans have just exploded out of the ground. Is the heat the reason for that?
A: “Corn loves the heat,” Wood said. “You could almost measure it and watch it grow. But pollination is helped by cool. Soybeans pretty much like the heat, too. But I think once it’s growing, corn likes the heat more.”
Q: Are there any harmful effects to the plants from the heat?
A: “The fine line is that some plants, like tomatoes, will only bloom and set fruit at certain temperatures,” Smith said. “Also many fungi that cause diseases also grow better with lots of heat and moisture. My lawn is growing like crazy and it is full of a fungi disease called brown patch.”
Q: Has the growing season got farmers thinking about a bumper crop this year?
A: “We’ve got a lot of variety,” Wood said. “We’ve got some corn and soybeans that got in at the right time that are looking good. Then there are some farmers who had to replant and had flooding whose fields aren’t looking good. In my crop report I said we had 10 percent is rated poor, 30-40 percent fair, 30 percent good and 15-20 percent excellent.”
Q: What key times are left for crops?
A: “We’d rather have rain than drought,” Wood said. “We’ve had rain the last two years. The corn will probably be fine, no matter what. August is when we like to have rain for the soybeans. August is key for them.”