Minnesota Farmer


rain is a good thing

Our little corner of Minnesota got 1.1 inches of rain for the whole month when our crops are needing an inch a week.  The National Weather Service has placed us in a Severe Drought, yet the crops look good.  Tonight we are again getting a few drops of rain, just a teaser, how much more dry weather can we take.

We’ve been eating some very good sweet corn lately, well filled out ears, good depth.  I will admit to setting the soaker hose in the patch one day, but one day only.  We usually use sweet corn yield to show how the field corn is doing.  The tomatoes are yielding well, and the peppers have good production on them as well.  Is this really a significant drought?  The answer is yet to be determined.

Both corn and alfalfa are showing signs of stress from lack of rain

Despite the good looking crops in the field I expect there to be some yield loss.  Our fields here will do better than some, but worse than others.  After two good cuttings of alfalfa, the third cutting was hardly worth the effort to harvest it.  That shows how the early rains helped early production, but have not been sufficient for the moisture needs of this last month.  There will be less grain harvested than our country needs for exports, and some domestic users will have to find alternative feed stocks.

Those hurt most in the livestock sector will most likely be the cattle feeders who depend on the rains not for corn, but for forage crops like grass, alfalfa and clover.  Some corn will be chopped to help extend the needs, but the best feed stocks may not be in the right place for the livestock that depends on it.  Cattle will go to slaughter and beef prices, at least on the farm, will be cheaper before they go higher.

Those who need feed grains the most, poultry and pork producers, will be able to buy feed, but at a highly inflated price.  Some chickens and turkeys will not be hatched until farmers can get a high enough price to pay for the higher priced feed.  Grains are easier to transport, so they will still move from areas of relative abundance to areas of need if the price is right.

Yes, these little showers of rain are good, just not enough to give our usual amounts of production.  Until the combines roll and we have some harvested acres we will just not know how good, or how bad.

Michael

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