Radio Script 7-9-19

Good morning. Welcome to the July 9th edition of Farm News and Views.

You may have noticed bees being…Well, busy as bees this spring and early summer tending to flowers in gardens, on fruit trees and even on weeds. Bees help to pollinate a third of the crops we eat, including almonds, apples, avocados and grapes, but bee populations have steadily declined since 2006. However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) won’t collect quarterly data this July for the annual Honey Bee Colonies report, citing budget constraints. This report has allowed the USDA, beekeepers, and other interested parties to compare quarterly losses, additions, and movements and to analyze the data on a state-by-state basis. read more

Radio Script 7-2-19

Field work in a central Illinois corn field.

Good morning. This is Bob Bragg. Welcome to the July 2nd edition of Farm News & Views.

Over the past three months, I’ve talked about problems that farmers in the Midwest have had this spring getting their crops planted. On some farms, growers reported that they were two months late getting corn and soybean seeds into the ground. I was able to see he good the bad and the ugly of crop progress last week, during a road trip making roughly a 400 mile circle around central Illinois and Indiana. Farmers used to say that if the corn was knee high by the fourth of July, they could expect a good crop. Although with modern hybrid corn varieties, corn plants are usually four or five feet tall by this time of the growing season. B observed that in many fields, corn was four to eight inches tall, and soybeans plants had just emerged from the soil. Farmers and farm managers I talked with told me that wet soil this year is only part of the problem with crops being so far behind in growth. Cool temperatures and cloudy days thus far have put a damper on plant growth even for fields that were planted early. Corn plants in many fields are pale yellow, rather than dark green, indicating that wet soils are inhibiting the uptake of nitrogen. Farmers hope that they’ll get plenty of sunshine and warm days to speed up plant growth for the rest of the summer, and hope that frost comes late this fall. While Midwest farmers have faced unprecedented challenges this year, farmers I talked to are still positive about their chances for a good year. read more