Area farmers rejoiced after rainfall over the last two days, as did city dwellers who saw their grass get a little relief. While the nation is grappling with higher prices on materials and fuel, farmers are feeling this pinch on top of seeing less yield for their crops come harvest.
Due to the area’s wet weather in April, corn crops are just beginning their pollination, which typically takes 3 weeks and will determine how many kernels each ear will have.
“Crops were planted later this year,” said Clint Hardy, Daviess County extension agent for agricultural and natural resources. “The lack of rain restricts growth and pollination.”
Hardy said smaller, lower-yielding crops are already expected, which is less than the last couple of years.
But, Thursday’s and Friday’s rainfall, along with the cloud cover, allowed for several farmers to find relief during the corn pollination.
Jason Strode of Strode Farms said the last measured rainfall before this week was June 2, and the extreme temperatures and dry weather has required more irrigation to provide moisture to the crops.
Their Henderson County farms received close to an inch Thursday morning, which he said is definitely a relief, but they have also been irrigating.
“We have 25 center-pivot irrigation [systems] to help,” Strode said.
Farming is costing more on the frontside – some costs double and triple the previous costs. Strode said that fuel purchased in December 2021 was $2.20 a gallon, while this summer’s purchase got as high as $5 a gallon.
“Fuel costs have been astronomical, but the last fuel we purchased was $3.97 a gallon, so we are hopefully going in the right direction,” he said.
Strode said the recent amount of rain will help keep the tassels moist, which is necessary for pollination, but also said it will be interesting to see how the genetics have helped corn retain moisture in the drought conditions.
“There is a lot of money invested in this crop and even with harvest prices being better this year, if they don’t have the yield, it doesn’t matter,” Hardy said.
Hardy said soybeans seem to be fairing better this year, even though they are suffering from the weather.
“We may have lost some, but they have a greater opportunity for success,” he said.
Hardy said the last drought in 2012 began with little subsoil moisture, which is different from this year. That year, the county was 100 bushels off the average yield.
“There was rain that year in late July or August,” he said. “It made a tremendous difference.”
Animal farmers are also suffering and are using hay for feed that would usually be used in the winter months.
Hardy said the dry conditions that people in the city are experiencing with their grass – not having to mow and instead watching it turn brown – are happening in pastures as well. This is affecting feeding costs and requiring some to consider decreasing their herd.
“It is tough on beef producers and any grass-grazing animals,” he said.
Hardy cautioned, “These showers have been beneficial, but we are not out of the woods.”