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Midwest farmers assessing benefits and burdens of weekend storms

Extreme weather and heavy rainfall events over the weekend helped some midwestern crops and hindered others. Brownfield reporters are talking to farmers across the region about crop conditions as more rain sits in the forecast for this week.

Illinois

Around 10 inches of rain hit fields in McLean County, Illinois-the top corn and soybean producing county in the US.

Illinois State Climatologist Trent Ford tells Brownfield it exceeded the 100-year rainfall totals for a three-day period, meaning there is only a 1% chance for this type of event in any given year.

“Some areas in southern McLean County got closer to that 500-year rainfall event, so it was very extreme.”

McLean County Farmer Reid Thompson tells Brownfield it will be a couple of days before they can determine the yield damage to corn and soybeans.

“It very well could have taken the top-end yield off most of our farms. I will say the southern and western sides of the county have been drier, so while we did have excess flooding, we also needed about half of what we got- we just needed it over a 4-5 day time frame instead of one hour.”

The majority of Illinois received at least 2 inches which was welcome to drier soils, but many areas fell in the 5-inch category which bring concerns for diseases pressure with the high temperatures and humidity.

Nebraska

High winds and hail damaged crops in eastern Nebraska.

Rick Gruber who farms in York County tells Brownfield the area received two storms Thursday night.

“One was at 8:30 and then a few miles west of us another one came through at about 10:30 p.m.  Definity hailed some streaks through the county, and we probably noticed it the most on the soybeans.”

Gruber said the crop is not a total loss and is deciding if he should replant.

“I wouldn’t do anything with what’s out there.  I’d just try to go in and try to put some more in, but I’ve been advised that it doesn’t necessarily solve your problem. It is the last few days of June so, I imagine they’re probably right, you’re probably not going to look at too great of yield on what you put in the ground today.”

Gruber says he didn’t notice much green snap in his corn and estimated a 1-2 percent population loss.  

Michigan

In Michigan , rains helped alleviate widespread drought, but skipped over some areas.

More than 90 percent of the state was still in some form of drought as of last Thursday, but Michigan Farm Bureau’s Theresa Sisung tells Brownfield there’s been a significant shift following weekend storms.

 “We have an area across the midsection of the state, from the southwest corner up into the Saginaw Bay, that saw anywhere up to eight inches of rain,” she says.

Unfortunately, she says there are still areas that are too dry while others are now too wet.

 “We’ve had a whole lot of things, but overall, our crop actually does look pretty good,” she says.

Wisconsin

Wisconsin farmers received some much-needed rain over the past four days, but some farmers got more than they immediately needed.

Crawford County in Southwestern Wisconsin’s driftless area was one area categorized by the National Weather Service as having severe drought just over a week ago and received a lot of rain Friday night.  Jody Riley farms on a ridge southeast of Gays Mills.

“We got about 4.5 inches on Friday night. And a friend of mine from Mt. Sterling was here this morning and said they got upwards towards a foot over that way.”

Riley says the first inch and six-tenths of rain he received about a week and a half ago saved his crops, and now they look fantastic. 

Indiana

Storms brought flooding, hail, and some wind damage to parts of Indiana over the past week. 

Northwestern Indiana farmer Kendell Culp says his farm received some rainfall after recent dry conditions. 

“On my farm, we’ve had four inches in the last four days. Another farm two miles north of us where we farm, we received eight inches of rain in that same timeframe,” he says. “So, now we have ponding and flooding and soybeans under water. We have wheat that’s not far from harvest and it’s standing in water.”

He tells Brownfield he would rather have too much rain than not enough at this point in the season. 

“Our corn is really growing well—it looks good,” he says. “The corn and soybeans both have a good color, the emergence was good, and so if things hold out, I’m expecting a pretty good harvest this fall.”

Culp grows corn and soybeans in Jasper County.

Missouri

Heavy rains in much of Missouri have prompted flash flood watches and warnings – with some farmers still dealing with flooding today and keeping a close eye on rising waters.

President of the Missouri Corn Growers Association Jay Fischer says recent extreme rain events have farmers questioning what to do next. Fischer, who farms along the Missouri River, says about a quarter of his fields are under water after receiving 11 inches of rain over the weekend. 

 “Moral’s pretty low right now,” he said. “When it’s July the first and you’re trying to decide ‘well what do we do’, are we going to replant beans, are we just not going to raise a crop on these drowned out acres. And the river’s still at 27 feet, I mean we’re just two big rain events away from being at the top of our levees. It’s emotionally challenging, it really is.” 

Fischer says levees near him can hold up to 31 feet. 

He says with strong grain prices, it might still be worthwhile to replant soybean acres.    

“If we could just get that water off and that ground to dry out, if we could get some beans planted by the 20th of July, we’d still try that,” Fischer said. “But I’m afraid it’s over with for some of the corn.” 

South Dakota

Scattered rain over the weekend fell over South Dakota – and more patchy rain is expected through today and tonight, but drought conditions are still firmly entrenched. So far, the rain has been hit or miss in most areas.

State Extension Climatologist Laura Edwards says there have been small improvements in some areas but for central and far western South Dakota, the over 100-degree days have made dry conditions far worse.

There have been a couple tenths-of-an-inch of rain in eastern South Dakota.

“That’s kind of helping us tread water, at least on the corn and soybean side but I know other crops are already really struggling and/or have been already at a significant loss if not total loss.”

Edwards says there’s a premature ending to the wheat crop where in central and north-central areas especially it’s being cut for hay.

As for corn, she’s worried about the weeks ahead, saying, “Conditions are not looking great for good pollination,” and not just for South Dakota.

She says 99% of South Dakota is in some form of drought and the near and longer term forecasts do not show improvement.

This story will be updated as Brownfield interviews more farmers across the region.

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