MORRIS - Minnesota corn was in excellent shape, but two weeks of dry weather during a critical stage of the crop's development is threatening a potentially tremendous crop.
"The corn looks as good as it's looked in a long time," said George Nelson, a crop scientist with the West Central Research and Outreach Center.
This year's corn crop is also ahead of normal, thanks to a dry and warm April and May. And up until the drought conditions that began two weeks ago, the area was also receiving decent and regular rainfall.
"The old-timers say 'knee high by the fourth of July,' but we were nearly knee high by the fourth of June," said Paul Groneberg, crop consultant with Centrol Crop Consulting.
Right now, corn in the area is tasseling and silking, but needs rain to finish developing.
"The crop is at such a critical stage now ... the dryness right now will cut back on yield the fastest of any stage of the corn," said Groneberg.
"With a timely rain, the corn could be a tremendous crop," said Nelson.
U.S. Drought Monitor data released last week shows that Minnesota and Iowa are experiencing abnormally dry to moderate drought conditions, but are faring better than other major corn-producing states.
The drought conditions were reflected in the July 8 edition of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's national crop condition report. Statewide temperatures in Minnesota were almost nine degrees above normal, and topsoil moisture was being depleted.
At that time, 62 percent of Minnesota's corn was rated in good condition, and 15 percent was in excellent condition.
Gretchen Schlosser of the West Central Tribune in Willmar contributed to this story. The West Central Tribune and Morris Sun Tribune are both owned by Forum Communications.