Weather playing havoc with farms
Posted: Friday, May 6, 2011 9:06 pm
From AP, staff reports
The weather is playing havoc with farmlands all across the United States.
In the South, including the local area, floodwaters have either prevented planting or have covered already sown fields. Out west, there is an extreme drought.
In Obion County, farming is still at a complete standstill, according to Obion County University of Tennessee Extension Service director Tim Smith.
“The ground is completely saturated with several thousand acres under water and still counting. Usually by this time of the year, we should have around 50,000 acres or more of corn planted. We will be lucky if there is 10,000 to 12,000 acres of corn planted at this time. And much of that is water logged,” he said.
Smith added many farmers may abandon their intentions to plant corn and move to other later planted crops such as grain sorghum and, especially, soybeans.
“When it stops raining, the upper ground will begin to dry out in two or three days and present an opportunity to plant a limited number of acres,” he said.
He said some farmers will push corn planting dates on into late May, but this is not recommended. After mid-May, the corn planting window will be closed for most producers.
“If this weather pattern persists, Obion County should see one of the biggest soybean crops on record,” Smith added.
Flooding rivers in east Arkansas grew higher this week, with runoff from two days of heavy rain trying to drain to the east while water in the Mississippi River reached so great a volume that it pushed water backward into the Black and White rivers.
Meteorologist Sean Clarke of the National Weather Service in North Little Rock said rivers in the state’s east are breaking records set before the state had a lock and dam system to control flooding an navigation.
“That’s what’s really impressive about this,” Clarke said.
Doyle Burnett, 61 of Des Arc, Ark., said he has noticed the increase in water levels from recent years on his farms.
“It’s never been this deep,” he said, adding that his 500-acre farm in Woodruff County is about 18 feet under water.
Burnett said the flooding and heavy rainfall is preventing him from being able to tend to his crops.
“It’s frustrating,” he said. “We won’t be able to get any rice for the remainder of the season on my Woodruff County farm because it’s too flooded. And I haven’t been able to do anything on my farm in Prairie County because of all the rain there.”
Up north, this spring’s cool, wet conditions have meant a slow start to the spring planting season in Michigan.
Favorable weather conditions last fall helped farmers get ready for a good start in 2011, but too much rain this year has saturated the fields.
Mark Turner of Sturgis, Mich., works as a mechanic for King Farms in Burr Oak. He says the farm’s fieldwork is behind schedule. Turner told the Sturgis Journal “fields may look dry on top, but underneath, the ground is still pretty wet.”
On soggy New York farms, tractors are sitting idle and their owners are growing anxious waiting for skies to clear. Fruit trees typically in bloom or on the verge of blooming are barely showing signs of budding.
Agriculture experts expect the unusually wet spring will translate into later-than-usual harvests of vegetables and fruits. But if heavy rains persist through May, they warn, that raises the prospect of no plantings of cool-season crops such as broccoli, spinach and peas.
Farmers in Kansas, though, can only hope for a small portion of the rainfall seen in the East.
Gov. Sam Brownback toured drought-stricken southwest Kansas on Wednesday, saying the dry conditions were more dire than he previously thought and he hoped the federal government would declare the region a disaster area.
Farmers and other residents in that state said conditions were the worst they’d seen in five decades, and state climatologists said significant rain hasn’t fallen since last summer. The latest U.S. Drought Monitor report shows drought covering more than 45 percent of the state, with extreme drought — the second most severe — in the state’s southwestern corner.
Cliff Mayo, who has been farming since 1952, said the conditions were the worst he had seen since the early 1960s.
Published in The Messenger 5.6.11