BONNER SPRINGS, Kan. (WDAF) — Cornfields were the backdrop for the Major League Baseball’s (MLB) Field of Dreams game Thursday night. But given this year’s hot weather, the crop isn’t doing great in Kansas.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) statistics, the vast majority of corn crops in Kansas, more than 70%, are not doing well. That figure puts 2022 as a far outlier from the past five years.
The heat can mess up the silk on the ear, explained Dave Hurrelbrink, board president at the Agriculture Hall of Fame in Bonner Springs, Kansas.
“Let’s call it what it really is. It’s hot. It’s dry,” Hurrelbrink said.
“Heat is the main thing. When it’s dropping, it’s pollen … and trying to get those ears to fill out. That’s where we really stumble and fall,” Hurrelbrink said.
“A little bit west of there, they’re already combining corn. So it’s that dry, and it’s that ahead of schedule,” Hurrelbrink said.
Corn growth conditions, including “silking,” have been rated worse this year by farmers than any year in the past five years. That’s according to officials with the USDA, who say even irrigated fields are having issues.
And it gets worse the more west you go, with the expectation that far more crops than typical will be complete losses.
It’s a stressful situation for farmers investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in the crop.
So MLB’s Field of Dreams game is fantastic this year, not just in evoking the imagery of ghostly players but also in presenting regional cornfields at an unrealistic standard.
“That corn is artificially tall. They irrigate it. They take care of it. It’s more cared for than your nicest lawn,” Hurrelbrink said.
According to the USDA, 73% of all topsoil at Kansas cornfields are short on moisture.