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Kentucky corn crop in critical moment due to heat and drought

U.S. Geological Survey
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As the unrelenting heat continues across Kentucky, medical experts are reminding

people to drink plenty of fluids and stay hydrated. But it’s not that simple for farmers who depend on Mother Nature to water their acres of corn.

Kentucky’s corn crop is in a critical moment.

University of Kentucky Extension Professor Chad Lee, who specializes in grain, said 30% of Kentucky’s corn crop is at a key point of growth.

“This next seven to 10 days is absolutely critical for the corn crop. If we miss this window, we’ll have some severe damage to the corn yields around the state.”
Chad Lee, University of Kentucky Extension Professor

“We’re right at the period of time where tassels come out and we go to pollination. And so that’s very sensitive for water stress in and of itself, but the corn is also at peak demand for water," Lee said. "It’s going to demand more water now than it does at any other point in its life cycle."

“This next 7-10 days is absolutely critical for the corn crop. If we miss this window, we’ll have some severe damage to the corn yields around the state.”

Lee said less than 10% of Kentucky’s corn acreage is irrigated. He said that hasn’t been a major issue for the past 10 years, since the last severe drought that hurt the state’s corn crop was in 2012.

The hot and dry weather is also stressing Kentucky’s soybean crop, but Lee said soybeans can adapt better to the lack of water.

Copyright 2022 WKU Public Radio. To see more, visit WKU Public Radio.

Rhonda Miller began as reporter and host for All Things Considered on WKU Public Radio in 2015. She has worked as Gulf Coast reporter for Mississippi Public Broadcasting, where she won Associated Press, Edward R. Murrow and Green Eyeshade awards for stories on dead sea turtles, health and legal issues arising from the 2010 BP oil spill and homeless veterans.
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