The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

AP story section

August 14, 2013

Helicopters and airplanes help area farmers

(Continued)

“In the short run,” the report says, “cash income must be sufficient to pay cash costs including seed, fertilizer, chemicals, insurance, cash rent and hired labor, as well as machinery, fuel and repairs, plus interest on operating capital. In the long run, income should be sufficient to pay all costs of production.”

The cost of having a helicopter spray a field is reported to be $11 per hour, plus the cost of the product being used. Having the spraying done by an airplane is usually about $1 less per hour.

Iowa State University professors Roger Elmore, Mahdi Al-Kaisi and Elwynn Taylor reported in a weekly crop update that many agronomists are reporting not only shorter corn plants than normal, at least in some parts of Iowa, but more variability across what usually appear as uniform fields.

They noted that after farmers finally got in their fields to plant, following a wet spring, an estimated 1.5 million acres per field work day had been planted by May 13th -- “probably the most we’ve ever accomplished.”

“Then soil temperatures fell below normal during the five weeks when most of Iowa’s corn was planted, and considerably below what we experienced in 2012. We know that small differences in soil temperature and moisture affect both above- and below-ground corn growth. Root depth follows the downward progression of temperature increases. Generally, roots do not grow in soils much colder than 50 degrees F.

“We’re used to seeing corn ‘as high as an elephant’s eye’ by the 4th of July but that didn’t happen this year.”

So what?

“Plant height itself is not necessarily a good indicator of corn yields if light interception is near complete at silking. However, if the upper canopy leaf areas are reduced by the cool temperatures of this spring, grain yield will be reduced.

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