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Hot, dry weather creates corn concerns at Galesburg’s Munson Hybrids

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That blazing sunshine with temperatures well into the 90's is uncomfortable for people. Turns out, it's also tough on the local corn crop.

That's where drought conditions are forcing a downgrade for expected yields. Less than 40 percent of the Illinois corn crop is rated good to excellent.

Crop conditions also declined in Iowa, but the Hawkeye state is faring better than Illinois. More than half its corn crop is rated as good to excellent.

While it's raising corn prices to a nine-month high, the situation is especially tough on a Galesburg grower.

Munson Hybrids will start crews on detasseling chores on Wednesday. That's where agromomist Craig Allaman is closely watching the seed corn crop.

"This soil was so dry that when the corn was about a foot tall, these roots just would not grow," he said.

Welcome rain fell over the weekend. But hit and miss showers left some growers with soaking rains while other nearby farms barely got a drop. That makes the next two weeks even more critical.

"We're pretty lucky right in this general area," Allaman said. "But you don't have to drive very far south or north to get out of it and really get into some stressed crops."

Extreme weather took a toll on 2011 corn crops. Drought conditions this year are producing even shorter stalks. The longer the dry weather goes, the worse it gets for the seed corn industry.

"This plant is probably a good two feet shorter than what we would normally expect," Allaman said. "That is a result of our early summer drought."

The Munson warehouse illustrates the problems. Inventory stands at about half its normal levels. That means the longtime business may need to import corn from South America like it did in 2011.

"The supplies of the seed across the country are already pretty tight," Allaman concluded. "From what we planted this year, we're looking at conditions that are somewhat similar to last year."

At Munson Hybrids, hope that the cracked soil isn't a sign of things to come.

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