Daviess County has received seven inches of rain during the last week, and farmers across the area are experiencing the effects. While not all farmers have lost crops, many have, and an estimated 4,000 acres of corn and soybeans have been destroyed as a result.
Clint Hardy, Daviess County Extension Agent for Agriculture and Natural Resources Education said it has been a challenging spring for farmers in the area.
“Beginning in April, we’ve received a lot of rain. Normally, when crops get a lot of rain, farmers will try to dry things out and shut down [production] for a while,” Hardy said. “But seven inches in seven days was more than these fields could handle.”
While Hardy insists that wet fields help things more than hurt them, the amount of rain Daviess County has received over the last week caused a multitude of corn and soybean crops to become submerged in rainwater.
“Water-logged soils have affected, first, the local area, but the entire Ohio Valley has been affected by this rain,” Hardy said.
The midwestern states of Iowa, Illinois and Missouri have experienced even worse flooding than Kentucky over the last few months, Hardy said, causing those farmers to lose more product than Kentucky will. However, Daviess County will see 4,000 acres of corn and soybeans destroyed, and another 10,000 acres are severely damaged.
Heavy rain in June has become a recent trend for this area and the surrounding counties, with farmers experiencing more early-summer rain than normal since 2014, Hardy said.
“Even so, to take that much rain over the course of a week is unprecedented,” he said. “Some fields are underwater, and the crop had already been planted.”
Most farmers in Daviess County had planted their crop prior to this downpour, Hardy said. Those with corn plants topping out at 48 inches or higher before the rains fell were more likely to salvage their crop than those who’d planted later in the season.
“Saturated soil displaces the oxygen that the plant needs for respiration,” Hardy said. “If water gets in but doesn’t submerge the plant, the plant has three days to succumb. The hardest-hit farms are those in poorly-drained areas, or those in the path of creeks and rivers.”
With the Ohio River expected to crest on Tuesday, more farmers could be affected by flooding, but Hardy said the rain should recede fairly quickly.
The community has begun gathering together to offer support and prayers to those affected. St Alphonsus Parish, located in west Daviess County, held a special mass Monday night to pray for the affected farmers in the communities of Stanley, Sorgho, Reed, Curdsville, Rome, St. Joe, West Louisville, Calhoun and Beech Grove.
Regardless of the disappointing situation many farmers are finding themselves in, Hardy said many farmers will produce a successful crop. In fact, much of the corn in Daviess County is expected to survive the heavy rains. Local corn production has seen lower numbers in recent seasons, dropping down to 50,000 total acres over the last couple of years, but more farmers decided to grow corn this year.
“70,000 acres of corn was planted in the county this year and most of it is looking really good,” he said. “We’re potentially looking at a very good year for corn and soybeans. It’s still no consolation for these guys whose crop was wiped out.”
Not every farmer has crop insurance, Hardy said, so farmers who’ve lost soybeans will likely re-plant their crop once the soil has dried.
Because of the flooding, other areas have experienced higher commodity prices on corn and soybeans in relation to consumer goods, though Hardy said that likely won’t be the case for Daviess County.
“Prices have been raised over the last few years, but commodity prices are still far below where they were seven or eight years ago, in the adjustment to consumer goods,” Hardy said. “I don’t want to discount the concerns of those affected, but we’ve got plenty of corn and soybeans that will be just fine.”