Minnesota Farmer


From wet to dry, again

I was just out mowing the weeds sticking up in my lawn.  The lack of rain for the last month has stopped all growth of our shallow rooted grass, but not the deeper rooted weeds.

When April came with heavy rains that last into early June, farmers tend to panic.  They hurry to get crops into the ground and sometimes get out into the field a bit early.  Working soil too wet can do damage to it that only comes out with time and rain.  When the rains stop, the damage makes it harder for plants to survive.

Our area of Minnesota was lucky, we got most of our crops planted.  There are areas of the state that did not get planted, the fields are just weeds, and there is no hope of income from those acres this year.  Crop insurance will only pay some of the bills, the rest must be made up with savings, or bank loans.

100_2184It was only a few short weeks ago I was searching for areas of my fields that were dry enough to work.  Now, we have had only a quarter of an inch of rain in the last 4 weeks.  This in a time when corn plants are using an inch a week.

Fields that were worked too wet will have hard ground that will not be easy for plant roots to penetrate.  Sandy areas of the field are already showing stress, and may not produce anything this year.  Well watered areas are still looking good, but that could change if we get a few weeks of hot winds like we had last year.

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Our climate seems to have taken a disturbing change in my area.  The spring time weather is so wet farmers have a hard time getting crops planted. By midsummer the rains have stopped and fields are showing moisture stress.  The key seems to be how much rain you get in the spring, a stray thundershower or two, and warm but not hot weather in the summer.

Getting that rain could be the difference between a poor crop and an excellent crop.  Temperatures in the upper 90’s with a hot wind will be worse than similar temperatures without the wind.  Some crops varieties will thrive in the heat and others will wither.  The variables are hard to calculate.  It’s no wonder that farmers are church going folks.

So for now field work is done.  We can only wait to see what harvest will bring.  Next years income hangs in the balance.

Michael

 

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