Crops Face Problems Helped by Drought

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Ag officials say that for Nebraska crops hot, dry weather means more than just extra irrigation.

"The drought is causing a myriad of problems actually," says Hall County Extension Educator Mark Hinze.

For instance, he says conditions have favored the spider mite this year.

Now the hotter it become the more rapid the life cycle becomes and they reproduce a lot quicker," says Hinze. "So we get an explosion, if you will, of two-spot and/or banks grass spider mites in our corn."

But officials have also been seeing them in soybeans.

Clay County Extension Educator Jenny Rees says some farmers have treated for them, but irrigation or rain can often wash them off.

"Spider mites have a piercing, sucking mouth part, so they're sucking the sap out of these individual cells," explains Rees during a walk of a field near Clay Center.

Crop officials say they've also found a disease called southern leaf rust in corn fields from Thayer to Hall County.

"You can see with southern rust, which is this upper leaf here, the pustules are very small and clustered," explains Rees when comparing a southern rust infected leaf to a common rust infected leaf.

Rees says southern rust usually shows up every year, but not until mid to late August.

"High heat and all the winds we had did favor southern rust to blow up from the southern states and up in several Nebraska counties," she says.

Agronomists says spraying for southern rust depends on growth stage.

"Every year the outbreak can be different, so every year is a new learning experience," says Hinze. "But based off of histories, if the crop is beginning dent, or expressing early dent, chances are it's too late."

Hinze says it depends on the fungus' proximity to the ear leaves, but southern rust can lead up to a yield loss of 10% or more.