How Drought Might Affect 2013 Crops

Following the 2012 growing season, researchers from across the Upper Midwest gathered to present data and opinions on a wide variety of topics pertinent to agriculture in our marketing area. Today I’m summarizing some of their findings for you to consider as you prepare to plant the 2013 crop.

  • SEEDLING DISEASES: University researchers are “dialing down” on the four main families of pathogens typically associated with soybean seedling diseases: Pythium, Fusarium, Rhizoctonia and Phytophthora. They have found more than 50 different species of Pythium that affect soybeans in our area. For many years, we believed this pathogen preferred cool, wet soils. Now we know that several of these species actually prefer warm soils! It was also discovered that some “new” species are not affected at all by fungicides currently available.
  • OTHER DISEASES & PESTS: Extremely dry weather throughout the Upper Midwest was responsible for the presence of Charcoal Rot, from as far north as southern Minnesota and as far east as the Mississippi River Basin. Damage from Soybean Cyst Nematode and Two-Spotted Spider Mite infestations were also widely reported. Be aware that many common insecticides don’t have much of an effect on Spider Mites, so carefully read the labels of any products you intend to use.
  • WEATHER: Dr. Elwynn Taylor said we’ve just finished a 19-year cycle of reasonably mild weather patterns and are now headed into a 25-year period where weather patterns are apt to be volatile. The 2012 drought caused most soils here to be depleted of moisture in the upper 7 to 8 feet. It will take a minimum of 16 –18 inches of rainfall (or equivalent in snow) to recharge those soils to their normal level. It will probably take at least two growing seasons to recharge.
  • TILLAGE: This was one of the “hottest” topics of the ICM conference. Most of the researchers were extremely surprised to see the amount of fall tillage completed because minimizing tillage helps conserve soil moisture.  Soil is our greatest natural resource, so we must protect and conserve it or our children and grandchildren will surely suffer the consequences.