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Weather extremes affecting KY farmers and crops

UK AGronomy Extension Agent Chad Lee
University of Kentucky
UK AGronomy Extension Agent Chad Lee

Turbulent, stormy weather can wreak havoc on Kentucky farmers and their crops. At the end of June, several Kentucky communities experienced significant weather-makers. Just over a week ago, hail impacted corn fields in central Kentucky including Madison County. Chad Lee is an extension professor in grains agronomy. Lee said hail storms often rip off the leaves of corn and the crop can recover.

“This hail actually bruised some of the stems and stalks of the corn plants and so it forces us to have to cut open corn stalks and figure out how severe the damage is to help us know whether or not those plants are gonna survive,” said Lee.

Lee said soybean crops suffered too, but generally, not to the degree of central Kentucky corn. The UK extension professor admitted the next three weeks are critical for corn, about the next four to five weeks for soybeans.

Sufficient rainfall is important to farmers in the Commonwealth. But rains have been inconsistent in some sections of Kentucky this growing season. Chad Lee said in the corn arena it hasn’t felt like a great year.

“There’s been two or three instances where our crop has been on the edge of disaster this year…and we’ve gotten a rain event..that we needed. And so we’ve had two or three of those happen for us already,” said Lee.

The Canadian smoke that’s filtered down into Kentucky has carried a mixed impact. Lee noted the smokey conditions have helped to keep temperatures down, but the plants in the field need the sun to grow as well. Lee added Kentucky grows about 1.4 million acres of corn and about the same in soybeans.

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Stu has been reporting for WEKU for more than 35 years. His primary beat is Lexington/Fayette government.
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