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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Rainfall answers some of farmers' prayers

Thursday, August 18, 2005

(Photo)
Raindrops fall on a cotton plant in a field Wednesday.
SIKESTON -- Sporadic rainfall across the drought-stricken region this week is answering the prayers of some farmers -- but not all of them.

"It's too late for corn, but there were some fields of soybeans hurting quite badly, and this rain helped pull them out and increase the yields," said Kenny Vowels, executive director of Scott County Farm Service Agency in Benton.

On Monday and Tuesday the Sikeston Light and Water Station recorded about .75 inch of rain. And just north of Sikeston, in the Benton area, farmers received .9 inch, Vowels noted.

"It was a good, very timely rain," Vowels said.

Anthony Ohmes, agronomy specialist for Mississippi County University of Missouri Extension, said he was surprised to see the county get about .75 inches of rain.

"It uplifts your spirits when you can get a good rain," Ohmes commented.

If New Madrid county got one inch of rain, it had to be imaginary, joked the county's University Extension agronomy specialist Jeff House.

"I haven't been everywhere (in the county), but the most (recorded rainfall) I've seen in places is .10 inch," House said.

House also said he's heard growers speculate they're losing half to three-

quarters of bushel a day right now due to the lack of rain.

All but two counties in Missouri have been declared by Gov. Matt Blunt a disaster because of drought.

Last week rainfall in the state averaged .29 inch, varying from less than .20 inch in the northwest and north-central districts to about .50 inch in the west-central and south-central districts, with significant amounts being limited to only a few counties, according to the Missouri Agricultural Statistics Service.

"Right now we need a general, slow 1 to 2 inches of rain," House said. Rain is only going to help right now and no crop is going to be hurt by rain, barring a flood, Vowels said.

"In August, we'll take any rain that comes along," he added.

And just how is the crop faring despite obstacles?

"It depends on what field you're standing in," Ohmes said. "Hurricane Dennis helped a lot."

Still, it's been a difficult year, Ohmes said.

"Those who had irrigation had to start in May, and normally you don't have to irrigate in May," Ohmes pointed out.

The hot temperatures in June, which Missouri hasn't had in a few years, combined with increased irrigation, along with the cost to irrigate, have taken a toll on farmers, Ohmes said.

"Last year was ideal. We had 'Iowa weather' with the cool nights and frequent rainfall," Ohmes recalled. "I even saw some (irrigation) pivots running today, which indicates rain is still needed."

What the hot and dry weather has also done is put soybeans under stress, Ohmes said.

"If you have stress, the plants start dropping their pods. When you lose pods, you lose yields. Timely rain will help keep those pods," Ohmes said.

Fortunately insect pressures, overall, have been really low, Ohmes said, adding farmers still need to monitor their beans for diseases.

Statewide 75 percent of soybeans were setting pods as of Sunday compared to 59 percent the previous week. Sixteen percent of the soybean crop rated very poor and 27 percent poor -- not much better than last week's 17 percent very poor and 26 percent poor. Four percent of the crop was rated excellent, up slightly from last week's 3 percent, and 53 percent of the crop was rated fair to good.