High temperatures concern farmers

Published: Jul. 6, 2022 at 4:09 AM CDT
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QUINCY (WGEM) - Along with presenting a health risk for people and pets, high heat and humidity can also impact the livelihood of farmers.

With temperatures expected to stay in the 90s through Wednesday, some local farmers are concerned about what this heat means for their crops.

Farmers said rain earlier this year was good for crops because it allowed roots to dig down deeper into the ground.

Recently though, the high temperatures have caused concern.

Adams County Farm Bureau President Brent Clair said we are a long way from a full-on drought, but the hot and dry weather has moved farmland into a slight drought stage.

He said a particular concern for farmers is high night-time temperatures, which can put stress on crops.

“Just like when we go home at night, we need to cool off, the crops need to cool off as well,” Clair said. “And if it doesn’t drop below 80 or 75 degrees, it’s still working, it’s still kind of sweating and needs that breath every now and then. So when we are looking at overnight lows not cooling off, that’s a little bit of a concern.”

Clair said any rainfall will be welcomed.

He said an inch a week would be preferred, but any amount that allows water to soak into the ground is helpful. According to Clair, the rainfall needs to come back soon before plants start pollinating.

If the fields do not get sufficient moisture before pollenation, Clair said crop yields could decrease anywhere from 15% to 50% depending on how long the dry spell lasts.

Taylor, Missouri farmer Tyler Haerr said while the sunshine is good for plants because it helps them photosynthesize, the lack of rainfall could cause problems down the road.

He said irrigation helps keep crops hydrated, but he is concerned the lack of rain could affect their yields if there is not relief soon.

“It’s just a high stress time for the plant,” Haerr said. “And so stress, it’ll start to cut back on the grain, which could be considered like the fruit, like a fruit tree. And it’ll start protecting itself as a plant. It won’t be producing that fruit or that grain that we are trying to harvest off of it.”

He said the heat has helped delay the crops from pollinating, but if the fields do not get some rain in the next week or so, it could drive down their yields.

Haerr said it’s a little too early to tell if their yields will be affected, so for now, farmers just have to wait and see how much precipitation the area gets.

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