Farmers hope for more rain, less heat
Leaf River Ag General Manager Scott Dau believes area farmers have been "pretty blessed" when he looks at the troubles farmers in other parts of the United States are having in the hot summer of 2012.
"The crops are looking very good," Dau said on a day when temperatures in Wadena soared into the 90s.
An early spring allowed area farmers to start work in their fields in March. They did not find a lot of subsoil moisture, and the hay crop, as predicted, has not been as good as 2011.
Two cuttings of alfalfa have been taken off area fields. They have not amounted to the same tonnage as last year, and rainfall is essential for a good third cutting.
"Last year we had a lot of subsoil moisture because the winter was heavy and this year we have been getting by, but we've got to get some rain pretty quick," Dau said.
Despite the heat, Dau has seen wheat, soybean and cornfields that look good. Irrigated fields have corn stalks seven feet high or more. He has also seen soybean crops that look stressed in the late afternoon, but by the following morning they are in good shape again. Wheat fields are drying rapidly in the heat, and the local harvest is only days away.
Grain prices are looking good, Dau said. Corn was in the $7.70-7.80 a bushel range on the Chicago Board of Trade, as the week began. Soybeans were in the $15-16 a bushel range. Spring wheat is going for a very healthy $9.71 a bushel.
"Right now it's looking like it could be very strong," Dau said.
While some area crops are parched, drought conditions exist in many parts of the country. The U.S. Drought Monitor has recorded moderate, severe and extreme conditions from California to Georgia.
Dau noted three of the biggest corn states, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana, are experiencing serious drought conditions, which are driving prices up.
"The irrigated stuff is not stressed," Verndale farmer Dan Fisher said. "The dry land is really in need of a drink."
Fisher's beef cattle have not been adding a lot of weight in the heat, but having water for them to stand in has made a difference.
"The cattle are taking it pretty good," Fisher said.
Bluffton farmer and dairyman Keith Goeller farms dry land, and is concerned about the 1,500-1,600 acres of corn he has in the ground. Goeller is also hoping for more rain.
"If you fertilize right and don't get the rain, it doesn't do much good." Goeller said. "We had some rains in June and they helped us, but we'll need like a half and inch to an inch for the rest of the season."
Like Fisher, Goeller is also concerned about his livestock.
"They don't like it 100 above," Goeller said. "Forty-five degrees for a cow is like 70 for a human."