Area crops OK ... for now
By Tom Larson
It's the way of farm life. Last year and in 2006, there were abundant prayers for rain and a break in hot weather.
This year, those prayers keep getting answered -- again and again.
Progress in corn and bean crops has been set back by the cool, wet weather, and hay cutting also is lagging as producers wait for some sun and heat.
"Keep the order in for 80 degrees," said Paul Groneberg, of Centrol, in Morris.
Corn was knee high at this time last year, he said. This year, it's just emerging. Adding to the problem is that corn planting was about two weeks behind normal because of wet, cool conditions, he said.
Beans aren't as far behind but the situation isn't much better, especially after the West Central Research and Outreach Center recorded a 1.78-inch rainfall earlier this week.
The area received 2.21 inches of rain in May, and since June 1, another 3.35 inches of rain has fallen. Since late May, temperatures in the area are 3 degrees to 3.5 degrees below normal for this time of year.
The western parts of Stevens County have standing water, and fields are wet in most areas, said Veronica Curfman, head of the Farm Services Agency.
But the problems aren't drastic yet, she said.
"As a whole, we're not anticipating a lot of issues," Curfman said. "But if it keeps raining there could be. We just need some warmer weather."
On the plus side, local wheat crops are flourishing in the moist, cool conditions. And after two dry years, subsoil moisture did need a significant recharge, Curfman said.
The moisture will be needed, Groneberg said, noting that corn right now is using about a half-inch of moisture per week. By the time plants are waist high, they could be using 1-1/2 inches or more.
In the immediate future, however, it's sunshine that's critical, he said.
"Everyday, we're sliding," he said.
With many specialized seed varieties now available, farmers have better chances to weather the weather, and warmer, drier conditions are most likely on the way, Curfman said.
"I think that will come," she said. "We needed the rain to restore sub-soil moisture, which I think we will be thankful for later on."