Archive for Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Too little, too late

Thousands of ears of corn burn up in fields

August 14, 2002

The soft sound of rain pattering into the soil Tuesday was a welcome relief to Tonganoxie residents who've been prohibited from watering for three weeks. But for farmers in the area the rains came too little and too late.

An estimated 20,000 to 25,000 acres of Leavenworth County farmland are planted in corn corn that may never make it to the bin.

"It's pretty well finished up," said Rick Abel, the county's executive director of Farm Service Agency. "It's mature to the point that rainfall at this point probably isn't going to do it a lot of good."

Overall, Abel said, the county's corn production will be down 40 to 50 percent. Abel contrasted this year with 2001, which saw a June flooding of Stranger Creek.

"This is one year when we can say the creek hasn't been our biggest drawback," Abel said. "It goes from one extreme to the other."

This is the worst corn year Abel has seen since 1988.

"That's when we had three weeks in July and August when it was over 100 degrees every day," Abel said.

Since then, he said, costs have increased.

"It costs so much more to put in a crop than it did then," Abel said. "It doesn't look like we're going to get enough back to cover our expenses."

Abel said he's just as concerned about soybeans.

"Soybeans are in a very critical state right now," Abel said. "The pods have set or dropped. They need to fill and in order for those pods to fill with beans they've got to have moisture."

An estimated 50,000 acres of Leavenworth County farmland are planted in soybeans.

Gary Rader, of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, said Tuesday's rain will likely give more of a boost to later-maturing varieties of soybeans than to those near maturation now. "We actually need more rain than we have now," Rader said. "I mean, one rain doesn't break a drought."

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