It seems there is quite a range of growing conditions across the region. Ranging from full drought with heat stress to good moisture and crops thriving in the heat. There is no one crop condition rating that will represent everyone.
But there are a couple of thoughts weighing on folks minds: soybean fungicide spraying and the status of the wheat crop.
Wheat: The wheat crop is racing along towards harvest. If planning for preharvest applications it may be sooner than you think. The target is 10-14 days before combining when the kernels are solid enough to leave a thumbnail print but not cut right through. The earliest farms I have seen will be in the preharvest range by Friday the 6th. I am putting the first harvest at July 15. For many that means going from the sprayer to the combine. As far as yield potential, there is a good crop out there. Yield impact from the dry conditions can be seen on gravels and sandy soils. Where moisture holding capacity is better the impact will be minimal. Grain size looks smaller than normal. And it's not hard to find aborted kernels on the heads in stressed zones. There is also a straw yield impact too this year. With the exception of the most severely stressed zones I believe we are within 5-10% of normal yields.
Soybeans and fungicides: This one is a really tough call. There are many factors to consider and each field will have differing factors. As those factors change throughout the growing season it's worth re-evaluating. Some of those factors are:
1. previous risk of white mould. With the dry heat even the most risky farms will be at low risk currently. A change in weather pattern will change this risk quickly, so keep assessing.
2. strong canopy development. If you are fortunate to have good soil moisture and a strong early canopy then there are definite plant health benefits from an application. The average return in the absence of white mould is 2.5 bu/ac. The better the crop, the better the rate of return. Protecting a crop that has 60 bu potential just makes sense.
3. insecticide pass. We are currently finding low to moderate levels of aphids in fields without an insecticide seed treatment. Unfortunately the beneficials are currently in the wheat and spring grain crop. I expect the earliest treatments for aphids will begin by July 10th. This is the type of weather that causes flare ups with spider mites as well but I haven't confirmed any as of yet. Keep scouting your soybeans. Teaming up treatments makes it more cost effective. We will prioritize scouting fields with known populations first. If you are concerned and haven't seen a report lately, give me a call.
4. timing-There is a wide window for response to fungicide in soybeans. The primary target is R2 stage. When you start finding a flower at either the top two nodes on the plant(see attached stage guide). However as conditions change later in the season there could still be a benefit for a later application.
photo credit Chris Haines July 3rd Wellington County