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Farmers Face Dry Fields

March 10, 2012
By: Sara Schafer, Farm Journal Media Business and Crops Editor
pC8 Farmers Face Dry Fields 1
With local soil moisture profiles very dry, many farmers are rethinking their crop choices and planting strategies for this year.   

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Lack of snowfall has some wishing for spring rains

Last winter was a record-breaker for many areas as foot after foot of snow covered fields. The past few months have been a stark contrast, with many areas receiving well under normal winter precipitation, according to farmer reports to AgWeb Crop Comments.

"It’s drier than a popcorn fart here in western Minnesota," says a farmer from Lac qui Parle County, Minn. "We’ve had less than 3" of liquid precipitation since Aug 1."

Weather affects planting intentions. The dry conditions extend into Iowa, where a Chippewa County farmer reports a significant lack of precipitation since July: "We’ve had 17" less snow than normal. We need spring rains."

In northern Nebraska, a farmer reports almost zero soil moisture: "After the crops dried up in early September, we have had a total of 2" of moisture, most of which came in October." The farmer says he’s received only enough snow to eliminate the dust.

"Unless we get enough rain in the spring to fill the soil profile, I’ll cut my corn population back to 15,000 and drop my fertilizer back to a 100 bu. per acre yield goal," he adds.

Even though northeast North Dakota has experienced a mild winter with little snow, a farmer there reports that he’s sticking with his original crop mix: "We went into freeze-up drier, but there is plenty of moisture to get the crop started. We hope to get an early start this year, barring any 4" spring downpour."

The delayed planting and harvesting in states like Ohio last year could still have an impact on the upcoming cropping season. A farmer from Henry County says that as of this February you could still find some standing corn and beans in northwest Ohio. "There’s lots of tillage work will need to be done this spring before planting can start," he says.

pC8 Farmers Face Dry Fields 2
Following the worst drought in the state’s history, a farmer from central Texas took this photo after 10 days of severe flooding.

Moisture abounds. Luckily, some areas that were extremely dry last year are starting to replenish their moisture levels.

Texas farmers, who last year endured their driest year on record, are seeing some relief. A farmer from Falls and Milam counties reports that he has received 20" of rain since Nov. 22, 2011. "We should be planting corn in late February, but it will be 10 days at least before we can get in the fields. We went from the worst drought in recent times to overabundant moisture in three months." If it dries up, crops should have plenty of underground moisture.

A farmer from Clay County, Ark., says the area is very wet: "Stock ponds are full to overflowing. The rain is very much needed after last year’s drought. A timely dry-out in March would be beneficial to wheat and corn ground preparation."

In Tennessee, a hay and alfalfa grower in Sevier County reports above-normal rainfall: "We cannot get on the ground to spray, fertilize or plant. Very deep soil moisture."

 

Read more crop reports and submit your planting conditions at AgWeb's Crop Comments.


 

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FEATURED IN: Farm Journal - March 2012
RELATED TOPICS: Weather, Crops, drought

 
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