There’s a saying that a rainy, wet growing season helps more than it hurts.

This phrase means that more production acres will benefit from adequate to excessive rain than land that performs better in drier summers. The last few summers have had above normal rainfall. In fact, my article a year ago this week addressed concerns of waterlogged fields and the subsequent appearance of yellow, stunted corn.

This year, a dry April was followed by cool, wet conditions in early May, but not excessively saturating ones. Late May and June warmed, and fields dried out. Dry soils in the second and third week of June resulted in many corn fields having areas where leaf rolling occurred. Leaf rolling does not automatically indicate yield is being lost. As Purdue University Extension Corn Specialist, Dr. Bob Nielsen, explains in the following discussion, it depends.

Early season dryness can be beneficial to young, developing corn plants. May and June more often deal with excessive rainfall that saturates or ponds on the field surface, resulting in stunted root and plant development or plant loss.

Stunted root development includes the restriction of roots to shallow soil depths because deeper soils remain excessively wet, preventing root growth. Dry soil conditions during the early stages of vegetative development will allow deeper initial rooting of young corn plants. Roots growing deep into the soil will benefit later in the season when conditions more frequently turn hot and dry.

Severely dry soils early in the season, coupled with warm, sunny days, can limit water uptake by the young plants to the extent that photosynthesis is stalled. The visual symptom that is occurring on corn plants is rolling of their leaves in response to the leaf stomates closing as they try to slow transpiration of moisture through the plants.

While the reduction in transpiration can be initially beneficial to the stressed plant, the closed stomates also result in less carbon dioxide being taken in by the leaves, which contributes to a reduction in photosynthesis.

The impact of the leaf rolling and the associated reduction in photosynthesis takes its toll on young corn plants by either stunting future plant growth, which results in short, small-leaf plants, or restricting ear size potential, as the number of potential kernels are determined during the phase of rapid growth leading up to tassel emergence.

Potential grain yield reduction due to early season dryness can result from outright loss of plant population due to death, loss of potential kernel numbers before pollination, loss of surviving kernels after pollination, or decreased kernel weight during grain fill, due to smaller plants and reduced photosynthesis.

Which of these consequences occur depends on the severity and duration of the early season dryness and what happens the remainder of the season. That’s why “it depends.”

Burley Tobacco Growers Co-Op UpdateA partial settlement has been reached in the dispute on the future of the Burley Tobacco Growers Cooperative Association. The plaintiffs who sought the dissolution of the Burley Tobacco Growers Cooperative Association have agreed to a partial settlement of the dissolution claims, pending approval by Fayette County Circuit Court, providing for the end and dissolution of the Co-Op.

Terms of this partial settlement of the litigation include the liquidation of the Co-Op’s assets, with net proceeds distributed equally among members who were active in any crop year from 2015 through 2019, after payment of administrative costs, fees, and expenses of attorneys. The first distribution should occur before the end of 2020.

The dissolution of the Co-Op will be managed by a six-member dissolution committee — Penny Greathouse, Mitch Haynes, and Gregg Craddock, who are members of the Co-Op involved in the litigation, and Al Pedigo, Eddie Warren, and Donald Mitchell, Co-Op directors.

The $1.5 million of the Co-Op’s assets will be designated for the creation of a new agricultural related non-profit entity whose mission will include serving as a liaison for tobacco growers with leaf dealers and tobacco purchasers, as well as advocating for producers/growers and land-owners in the production of tobacco. They will also provide services and support for education and research beneficial to growers of all types of tobacco.

The special meeting of members to vote on dissolution, which was postponed because of COVID-19 guidelines and concern for members’ safety, will no longer be necessary.


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