Rain comes; more needed as plants show the stress
Leaves dropping from trees and corn stalks turning brown at the bottom. These aren't signs of fall but are signs of dry weather.
"It's drying out the corn. There's not enough moisture. The stalks are turning brown from the bottom up," said Bob Johnson, the owner of Johnson Grain and Feed in Morris.
The leaves falling on lawns and in street gutters or changing color on the trees are likely caused by stress, said Sally Finzel of Morning Sky Greenery in rural Morris.
"It's probably stress...it's been so dry," Finzel said.
Although Morris and the surrounding area received rain as of Aug. 3, that won't be enough to healthly sustain plants, Johnson and Finzel said.
Johnson said amounts of 1 inch and a 1/4 in Donnelly, 1 inch and a ½ in Chokio and an inch and one-tenth in Morris were reported to him the morning of Aug. 3. "Which is good," Johnson said.
While rain is predicted for Aug. 5 and into the next week, the region's rainfall is well behind the average.
The West Central Research and Outreach Center in Morris said the area received .92 inches of rain in July. That is 2.92 inches below the average rainfall of 3.66 inches. WCROC data has recorded only two years of less rainfall. In 1936 only .34 inches was recorded and 2006 only .74 inches was recorded. The average temperature in July was 71.3°F, which is 0.4°F above the average of 70.9°F
"I do worry about trees," Finzel said. Trees can use an inch of rain a week, Finzel said. Young and newly planted trees are at the most risk," she said.
Signs of stress damage include the fallen leaves and discoloration, Finzel said. Ash trees are vulnerable in dry weather, in part because they are suspectible to various disease. That's also true for elm trees, she said.
Damage in hackberry trees may be noticeable because spider mites like hot and dry weather. "The leaves may be grainy when you look at them," Finzel said.
Grasshoppers also love the hot and dry weather. "We've seen them come out in big droves," Finzel said.
Warm and wet weather is also critical to crops that are pollinating. Corn pollination started early this week which triggered their need for moisture.
Crops, trees and plants will still need rain in August.
"I'm wondering how the fall will play out," Finzel said. The area has had unusually warm falls over the past several years, she said.