SIKESTON -While dragging their umbrellas to work may have been an inconvenience for some, last week's rainfall was an answered prayer for local farmers, giving much needed moisture to their parched fields.
"It was perfect - it couldn't have come any better if you would have ordered it," said Jerry Dambach of Benton, who farms in Scott and Stoddard counties.
Before the rain, it was so hot and dry some of Dambach's soybean crop was dying. "We had some that we were losing some of the stand over," he said. "If it weren't for the rain, some of them would have been destroyed." Dambach also raises corn, wheat and milo.
Rain was also much needed for Carl Stricker of Charleston, who farms in Scott and Mississippi counties. He farms on loamy soil, which doesn't usually require irrigation or frequent rainfalls to make a decent crop, but this year was an exception, and he was hit hard by the dry weather as well.
"The corn crop was still holding up, but it still needed the rain," he said. The corn probably would not have been destroyed if it weren't for the rain - it still would have been a decent crop, but the rain should lead to higher yields, Stricker added.
The moisture was much more important for his soybean crop, Stricker said.
"They were definitely in trouble," Stricker said. "They're in their reproductive stage and moisture is very critical at this stage."
Some of the earlier soybeans were in their flowering and pod setting stages, desperately needing the rainfall, he explained. And some of the smaller, more recently planted soybeans weren't growing.
"They quit growing until it rained," Stricker said of the younger soybeans. "But since the rain, they've tripled in height."
Although the total amount of rainfall Dambach received on his farms varied, he averaged about five inches of moisture. But as far as he was concerned, it was OK, since the rain fell slowly and was really needed.
Robin Smith, weather forecaster at the National Weather Service in Paducah, Ky., agreed. It wasn't a downpour in two or three hours, but instead was a steady rainfall over two to three days, and just what the farmers needed, he said. "It prevented slash run-off and allowed time for the moisture to absorb into the ground and crops," Smith added.
And the high precipitation didn't pose a dilemma on Stricker's loamy farms either. "We can't normally handle six inches at one time, but the conditions were right this time that it wasn't a problem," he said.
The rainfall also allowed farmers to shut off their irrigators, saving quite a bit of money. "It really helped on the fuel bill," Dambach said. He was going through about 800 gallons of diesel to keep his irrigators running the week prior to the rain, he estimated. This amounted to over $1000 in one week.
Rain was even more helpful in areas farmers could not irrigate in. Dambach said the crops would have been completely destroyed in those areas without the rain. "We thought we were going to lose them completely, but now they're growing again," he said.
There is a chance of showers and thunderstorms today and Wednesday, according to Smith. "After that, there may be occasional afternoon pop-ups, but there is nothing organized at all," he said, adding that until Sunday, there will be really hot and humid temperatures.
Despite all of last week's precipitation, that is a good thing for local farmers. They will continue to need and welcome rain throughout the summer. "You never turn down a rain in July and August," Stricker said.
Dambach agreed. "We never turn rain down in the summertime," Dambach laughed. "An inch a week, if you could order it, would be great."