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Good corn crop still needs rain

BY DAVID ZOELLERdzoeller@paducahsun.com

While lack of rain remains a factor,  this year's Kentucky's corn crop is looking like a strong one.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture's recent crop progress and condition report, 75 percent of Kentucky's corn crop is in good to excellent condition.

"Those numbers were for the week ending June 20," said Dr. Chad Lee, extension agronomist with the University of Kentucky. "The crop conditions looked pretty good (then) and still look pretty good now."

Lack of rain, especially in some areas, is still a concern.

"By and large, we're short on water," said Lee. "At this point, the vast majority of corn in the state needs some water to fill those seeds out."

The crop is at a point where it could lose some yields because of dry conditions, Lee said. A good soaking of rain over several days would be a great help, he said. "We need rain and we need it now," Lee said.

The overall price of corn dropped again last week as a mix of sunshine, rain and moderate temperatures increased the likelihood of a record crop this year, according to the Associated Press.

Corn for delivery in September dropped to $3.68 a bushel.

"It wasn't that long ago the price spiked at over $6," Lee said."We've seen a massive drop even from March and April of this year."

The USDA predicts this year's crop, forecast to yield 13.9 million bushels, will come close to matching last year's record, according to the AP. Kentucky's corn crop will probably not match last year's which was also a record, Lee said.

"I'd be very surprised if we hit last year's numbers," he said.

Recent cooler temperatures will help the situation, according to Dr. Carrie Knott, extension agronomist with UK's research and education center in Princeton.

She agrees it is not likely the corn will reach last year's record, "unless we start getting a lot of rain and stay cool."  Most of the corn is in the grain fill stage, the time from pollination to when the grain kernels fill out and become ready for harvest, Knott said. Cooler temperatures reduce plant stress.

"There is still a chance for an excellent crop, not just a good crop, but excellent," Knott said, noting the lack of any major diseases or other stresses.

"Of course, that can all change at the drop of a hat."

Contact David Zoeller, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8676.

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