Drier weather may be too little, too late

By Dennis Minich

Sunshine last weekend provided a brief respite for a majority of the water-logged residents around the area, but for area farmers it may have been too little too late.

According to the National Weather Service, the Kansas City area has received rain on more than 50 percent of the days so far this year. Rainfall in May surpassed 13 inches, the wettest May since records have been kept, which started in 1881. The precipitation has created a multitude of headaches for farmers, according to Ron Highley with the USDA office in Harrisonville.

“Last week was a little better, but there’s way too much water on the corn that’s been planted. About 50 to 60 percent of the corn in the county had already been planted, but most of that will likely have to be planted again,” he said. “Just because it doesn’t rain for a day or two doesn’t mean much, we need a few days of sunshine so the fields can dry up enough for the farmers to get out and work.”

The timing of the weather has been bad. Traditionally, corn must be planted by June 1 to have time to grow. With 40 percent of the crop never planted and upwards of 60 percent needing to be replanted, farmers face a tough decision.

“I assume many will have to replant, but some will switch to soybeans, that is always the Plan B. Soybeans can be planted in June.

“Both crops are priced low, but the corn is better than the soybeans because there are  more  domestic  uses  for  corn.  The price of corn has gone up slightly and I continued to assume that is because of the weather,”  Highley said.

The problem is not limited to this area. Highley noted Illinois has only gotten about 30 percent of its crops planted.

Although wheat is not a major crop in the county, there are some local fields and Highley said their crops are devastated as well, as the wet conditions are ripe for crop diseases to take hold.

“It’s just the worst time for the wheat, just as the plants were getting ready to pollinate,” he said.

A year ago, the concern was a drought which was gripping much of the Midwest. But the rains started in the fall and continued through the winter and many of the areas reporting the worst of the drought are now the hardest hit with flooding.

“The drought pretty much ended when the rains started last fall and then it was wet and muddy the whole winter,” Highley said.

How the entire growing season will turn out is still a guessing game, but the odds are tough, according to Highley.

“I have never seen a year where we were just in a holding pattern for so long. You can’t do anything about the weather so you just try to do what you can to work around it,” he said.

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