Sign In | Create an Account | Welcome, . My Account | Logout | Subscribe | Submit News | Contact Us | Home RSS

Field conditions vary because of dry weather, farmers say

August 10, 2012
By Steve Browne , Marshall Independent

Though this year's drought is nationwide, effects vary from region to region, and within regions vary widely depending on local conditions of soil and rainfall.

And in spite of recent rains, the drought is not over yet.

"It usually takes a much longer stretch of above-normal rainfall," said Chris Franks, a meteorologist with the Chanhassen office of the National Weather Service. "Recent rains get us close to where we should be for halfway through this summer but doesn't erase the deficit. Drought doesn't come one month and leave the next."

Franks pointed out this year's drought followed almost a year of dry weather going back to last fall.

Minnesota farmers from around the state gathered at FarmFest on the Gilfillan Estate near Redwood Falls this week and talked about the varied effects the dry year has had on their fields.

Ray Talsma farms near Chandler in southwest Minnesota and got two-and-a-half inches of rain last week, which will help some, but it's still going to be a bad year.

"I may get 20-30 bushels per acre, in some fields more than a hundred, but very few," Talsma said.

Last year Talsma said he was getting an average of 200 bushels per acre. Present yields may not pay for the cost of planting and harvesting.

"That's where federal crop insurance comes in," Talsma said.

Dean Schumacher raises corn and beans near Lamberton. Soybeans are more drought-hardy than corn and can still produce pods if they get timely rains in August.

"It ain't too bad considering the amount of rain we've had," Schumacher said. "Less than normal, but we won't know until we go through with a combine. Beans, hard to tell there too. I went through a field and the pods are out there but not that many."

Though corn and beans are the major cash crops in the region, an overlooked but important crop is grass for cattle.

Conrad Kvamme is a nutritionist specializing in cattle who works in quality assurance for the National Cattleman's Beef Association and has interests in beef and dairy cattle throughout southern Minnesota and South Dakota.

"The effects on dairy are very extensive," Kvamme said. "Anything over 70 degrees for a dairy cow and she starts to suffer. The optimum is 40-60 degrees. Milk production is off 10-15 percent depending."

Because of the drought conditions, Kvamme said, a lot of grass has gone into dormancy, making it necessary for a lot of cow/calf herds to be relocated. Worse, cattlemen may have to start feeding their stock hay three or four months before they usually have to, which could result in a shortage of hay.

Since weather patterns have been spotty across the region, some are feeling the effects of the drought less than others.

"Ours ain't too bad," said Chad Ryan, who farms near Goodhue in the southeast part of the state. "It was a little dry during corn pollination but we had some timely rains. The beans are good but we'll probably lose 15-20 percent of the corn crop due to lack of rain during pollination."

Jordan Klassen farms not far from Ryan near Windom.

"Some fields are good and some are so-so," Klassen said.

Though he doesn't have a yield estimate yet, Klassen guessed his corn would be in the 50-100 bushels per acre range. Not as bad as some, but Klassen said he'd be happy in the 180-200 range.



I am looking for:
News, Blogs & Events Web