Sustainability

2020 Ground Work: Delaware Crops Manage Heat, Hurricane

It’s still hot, though a bit of relief may be coming. For most of the past month, temperatures have been in the mid-30°C, or above 90°F. But with the humidity, it’s felt like more than 38°C or 100°F.

We had a few spotty rain showers during much of July, but in early August, a hurricane moved through Chesapeake Bay and across Delaware, dropping between 0 and 12.5 cm, or 0 and 5 inches, of rain. That was the first significant amount of rain we’ve gotten in about a month.

The lack of rain meant that irrigation was running throughout the month of July. My irrigation pivots require constant monitoring to turn them on and off as required by the crops and to make repairs as needed. Fortunately, those pivots remained standing during the hurricane. Irrigating keeps me very busy, so the storm provided a bit of relief from that. I kept the irrigation off for at least the following week.

Overall, our crops look fair given the conditions we’ve had this season. My early-planted soybeans look good and have pods set and growing. The double-crop soybeans are flowering. The soybeans receive damage from deer that like to eat them, but every year it seems like that damage gets worse.

My corn took a beating during the hurricane, with quite a bit of leaf damage, but it all remained standing, which is promising. All the corn has ears growing, and it will likely be ready to harvest in early to mid-September. The irrigated corn looks decent, and I treated it with fungicide and insecticide in mid-July to protect plant health and control insects to help it remain standing during major storms. It is now at a point in the season where it will need less irrigation to finish the crop. The dryland corn is hit-and-miss as to how well it’s doing, related to the number of spotty showers in those fields earlier this summer.

We finished planting lima beans on July 20, and those beans emerged well, even though it was dry at that point in time. Since then, they’ve gotten rain. The early-planted lima beans are already flowering. They will be ready to harvest likely about mid-September.

For my seed business, I’ve been collecting seed returns, or seed that farmers ended up not planting. I’ve also started talking to my customers about seed for fall cover crops. Some farmers are committed to cover crops and will plant them no matter what. Other farmers will make decisions about cover crops based on cost share or other programs available to support the practice.

It’s now time to get ready for harvest, which will be here before I know it. I have to make some repairs on a combine before harvest gets underway.

And, my wife and I are also getting ready for the birth of our first child in September. So we have plenty to get ready for as we look forward to next month!

 

Cory Atkins
Cory Atkins

U.S. Soybean Farmer

Delaware

First-generation farmer Cory Atkins and his wife Kate, a registered dietician, live near Seaford, Delaware. Cory grows soybeans, corn, wheat, barley, grain sorghum and vegetable crops like green beans, lima beans and pickling cucumbers. In addition, he has a seed dealership and does custom planting, spraying and harvesting. He serves as a director on his state and regional soybean boards, as well as the United Soybean Board.