Excessive Heat Can Affect Plant’s Crop Water Use

Sugarbeet field during wilt
Sugarbeet plants wilt in a field.

Excessive Heat Can Affect Plant’s Crop Water Use

Summer is here, and already, we’ve seen some excessive heat. Heat can be a stressor on people, animals and crops.

“As heat goes up, the plant draws moisture from the root system from the soil, but it's the stomates on the leaves that actually pull that water up to feed the plant,” said Gary Stone, Nebraska Extension educator. "If it gets too hot, the stomates shut down, and the plant will wilt, even if there is enough water through irrigation. The plant will be unable to use it."

Temperatures in the 80s are better for the crops than excessive heat.

“Generally, the temperatures will cool down at night so that plants will recover,” he said.

Growers should monitor soil moisture and ensure adequate moisture. Even though plants look wilted, they will recover with cool temperatures, sunlight and water.

Assisting growers with monitoring their crop's water profile is the estimated crop water use for June 17-23.

The table information includes the estimated crop water use for Nebraska Panhandle crops for the previous week and the upcoming week. The table is based on data gathered and calculations made by Gary Stone, Nebraska Extension educator, and Dr. Xin Qiao, extension irrigation and water management specialist, both based at the UNL Panhandle Research and Extension Center in Scottsbluff, Nebraska.

Crop water use will vary across the Panhandle due to variations in ET, crop growth stage, temperature, soil type, wind and precipitation events. Crop water use will assist growers with irrigation scheduling and efficient water application and use.

Register online to receive a weekly text message with the table information.

The AgriTools App can provide easy access to location-specific climate and weather information to the agricultural industry in Nebraska.

Crop water use table
Estimated crop water use for Nebraska Panhandle crops: June 17-23, 2024.

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A field of corn.