The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s latest crop report for Nebraska confirmed what anyone who’s been outside knows — temperatures have been cooler than normal lately.

Michael Rethwisch, UNL Extension Educator in Butler and Polk counties, said the cooler weather — 2 to 6 degrees below normal, according to the report — has helped farmers get some field work done, such as cutting silage and tending alfalfa. And the cool weather coupled with recent rains gave them a break from irrigating.

“The cool weather is helping in reducing the amount of water being lost or going into the atmosphere,” said Rethwisch. “In high temperatures, there’s more evaporation so a lot of water is depleted out of the soil. With these cooler temps the ET (evapotranspiration) rates are reduced so the water in the soil is available longer so it’ll sustain people longer here.”

The USDA report released Tuesday rated 45 percent of the state's corn crop as good and 18 percent excellent.

Rethwisch said he believes eastern Nebraska accounts for much of that good-to-excellent crop, given what he’s heard from colleagues to the west.

“For this region I think we’re sitting better than the rest of the state because we’ve had some timely rains,” he said. “People in western counties, they were very, very dry. The corn was not going to make much because they were hurt by a lack of water.”

Corn is changing color and ears are “filling up nicely," according to Rethwisch, and he’s seeing a lot of progress with soybeans. The USDA report said 8 percent of beans are dropping leaves, down from 15 percent at this time last year.

“Here in the last week we’ve seen soybeans really start to change color,” said Rethwisch. “In Butler County, I’ve seen a really big change where we’re starting to see a lot of yellowing.”

The USDA report rated 51 percent of soybeans in good condition and 13 percent excellent.

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