Rain makes grain — or so the old adage goes.
But for some members of our reader consulting group, rain makes it impossible to plant, makes prairie potholes into prairie private lakes, and makes a switch from corn to soybean acres almost a certainty.
It’s a greenhouse out there, according to Bud Tate of Greenwood, Miss. He updated us on the latest precipitation amounts in his area via email.
“5 inches to 8 inches the past 48 hours. One farm reporting 9.5 inches since Sunday night. If rain makes grain, this ought to be a dewsy.“
Note to Bud: Great pun! Turning doozy into dewsy because it has to do with water. Also a note about Bud, he works in Greenwood and lives in Stoneville, in the center-west part of Mississippi.
Bud continued in a second email: “I got to Greenwood this morning, to a wall of water. I had over 4 inches in the gauge; I’m pretty sure it was empty before. Compared to Stoneville at 5 a.m. with 0.3 inches. Highway 82 is the east-west line of this front … north of 82 is getting 6 inches/hour, but south of this, only the occasional shower.
“The February corn is all tasseled and over 7 feet tall, the early SB’s are lapping on 30-inch rows. Milo is coming up in some fields that were recently planted, but some full season milo is waist tall.
“We are in greenhouse conditions. It’s the kind of morning, that you just know some kind of fungus is attacking your crop.”
Scott Wallis of Princeton, in the southwestern tip of Indiana, tells us the rain has been good for some, not so much for others.
“Corn is in one of two conditions here — above average or just ugly. Just too much rain in the last two weeks. Soybeans are handling the wet weather better; still about 10%-20% to be planted. Wheat has developed a lot of diseases in it with all the rain. Also could be another two weeks until harvest begins which is at least 10 days behind could hurt double-crop bean yields.”
Across the state, in Ripley County in the southeastern corner of Indiana, Gerald Gauck is one of the lucky ones. “Corn and soybeans are off to a super good start in Ripley County, Ind., and surrounding areas. Excellent emergence, good timely rains, just about too good to be true. We pray that these conditions will continue.”
We guess Gerald isn’t the only one praying. We received this note from Jan Layman of Kenton, Ohio. “Continues to be a real struggle here. Finally finished corn on June 1. Still have half our beans to go. Have had anywhere from 2 to 4 inches so far in June. More coming tomorrow (Tuesday). Been at this 35 years and this is as tough as any.”
In Alexander County, the southernmost county on the western side of Illinois, Kenton Thomas is feeling the weight of too much precip. “Wet is the one word that tells the story,” he wrote. “Went from being dry three weeks ago to rain every other day. Lots of corn does not have any nitrogen on it; also needs sprayed. Still have beans to plant and wheat needs sunshine.”
Still, in Manhattan, in northeast Illinois, despite an excess of moisture many fields are looking good according to John Moore. “The saying goes ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ Well, let me tell you that after all the breakdowns and freak accidents that my son and I had trying to finish planting custom acre beans this week, I think we could have taken on Hercules and the X-Men and come out the winner.
“But the end is in sight and it’s time for my son to put on his scouting cap and dad to dig out his straw hat to bale some hay. Please Mother Nature could I have a few good windows to get first cutting in the barn? NO DROUGHT or anything like that, just some good old fashion summer weather for haying?
“Overall crops in north-central Illinois look great (knock on wood) and this is off to a bang up season. Let’s hope it stays that way.”
Cory Ritter of Blue Mound, Ill., pretty much dead center in the state, reports good tidings from his fields. “Things around here are amazing. Lots of rain, but ground and crops soaking it up nicely. Quite a bit of the corn is waist tall or taller. Soybeans just keep getting bigger. Some have been sprayed and next opening of dryness will allow us to finish spraying.”
In Jefferson, Iowa, Pete Bardole is feeling optimistic, too. “Both corn and beans are looking good here, moisture is adequate at this time we could use some more heat and sun.”
And David Kjestrup in Underwood, in the central west part of North Dakota, also had nothing bad to report — unless he’s being sarcastic with that last two-word comment, I can never tell with David. “Barley is up, sprayed and looks wonderful. Wheat is up, seems slow, spraying it now. Corn is up, sprayed & about 10 inches tall. Soybeans are just peeking out, not sprayed. Nice weather.”
Across the state, in southeastern to south-central North Dakota, Levi Taylor of Ypsilanti seems to agree with Kjelstrup.
“We just finished up planting soys yesterday (Sunday) and finished spraying all the corn and beans today (Monday). For the most part I’m seeing good-looking stands on both beans and corn. The high temps and sun really gave us a good jump start once the seed got in the ground. We have been getting small rains that have been good for recharging all the pre-emerge we sprayed. I know of guys still planting beans, but I imagine by the 10th most everything will be wrapped up. Wheat has been looking good as well. I made a trip up to Devils Lake last weekend and saw a lot of small grains looking good (wheat and barley).”
Despite the rosy reports, The Northern Plains and Minnesota are areas where pundits expect to see some perhaps significant prevented planting acres. Jeff Littrell of Chatfield in eastern Minnesota had this to report.
“I spoke with a grower in the St. Cloud area Sunday at a graduation and they prevented planted 800 out of 1,200 acre so far. … The crop looks good around southern Minnesota, not too far north and west of us it gets bad real fast but I am not sure if any of this really matters. The funny thing, there is no corn piled anywhere and the rumor mill states that the local co-ops are not going to need trucks to haul any corn locally, so it should be interesting to see who’s lying and who’s not. I feel very good about our crop; all the conventional soybeans got in by the 26th of May and our organic soybeans were in by the 28th and they all look great and I hope it stays this way.”
You and us both, brother.
Also in Minnesota, Starbuck to be exact, in the central west part of the state, David Tollefson reports things are OK in his immediate area, but he hears not so good in other areas of the state. “Most of us in my area of west-central Minnesota have pretty good-looking crops, but almost everyone has drowned-out spots or spots with water standing, where the corn or beans may not turn out very well. But we hear of areas southeast and northwest of here where the crops did not get in yet or are turning to soybeans instead of corn as a last resort.”
In New Era, Mich., Phil Carter reported corn is finally planted. “Michigan escaped without any rain here (last week) and I got a lot done; but it was a long week in the tractor plus a legislative breakfast, an apple thinning meeting, a Farm Bureau board meeting (was invited to attend, served my 12 years and six as county president). Most corn is finally in the ground here, apples are looking good and hay is starting to be cut. I haven’t had time to investigate farm bill programs but my main goal with the farm bill was an improvement in crop insurance.”
To end on a positive note — sort of — here’s a note from Adam Stonecipher of Danville, Ill.
“I’ve covered a lot of territory in the past week and I can confirm that the corn and beans look really good across east-central Illinois and west-central Indiana. Very few bare fields, most are dark green with good, uniform stands and have gotten the rain they needed. As I talk to my clients, most feel good about where their crop is today compared to previous years and the general feeling is that we have the potential for a big crop in our area.”
Then the little dose of reality: “Of course,” Adam continued, “a lot can still happen between now and August. But it seems everyone feels good about where we are today. Now, the markets are another story…”