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Way too wet

By Staff | Jun 2, 2013

The saying is “April showers bring May flowers,” but what happens when April has snow and May brings a flood of rain?

Crops don’t get planted, that’s what.

All around Faribault County, and most especially on the eastern end, fields are empty, save for a few lake-like puddles in the crevases where sprouts should be instead.

“Everybody is just waiting to get their work done,” says James Stromberg, a WFS field marketer for the Blue Earth area. “I’d say in Blue Earth, the corn is 95 percent done and beans are about 50 percent done, but east of Blue Earth there’s less.”

On top of the seemingly neverending rain, the weather has been cooler than what is typical in May. Ideal conditions for corn is 80-degree weather. Corn does like rain, but maybe not nearly this much of it.

“The corn looks good,” says Stromberg. “It just needs some heat. Beans don’t really like wet weather.”

Farmer Tom Warmka from Easton contradicts that, “The corn is not looking healthy,” says Warmka. “It’s growing; it’s coming. But, it doesn’t look healthy because it’s so cool.”

On the west end of Faribault County, many of the fields are planted, at least those slated for corn.

“The farther east you go, the worse it gets,” says farmer Tom Warmka of Easton. “On May 2nd we got 12 inches of snow.”

Warmka says his heart goes out to his neighbors to the east who have it worse off than him.

When asked which is more detrimental to the corn crop, the cold or the rain, Stromberg says, “Rain,” without hesitation.

Those patches in some farmers’ fields that have standing water will not yield corn if it has already been planted. The farmer will either have to deal with an empty patch or try to plant again once it dries up. Neither option is ideal.

Both men state that June 1 is the date that farmers have in the back of their minds. This is because once June hits, farmers have two options: take 60 percent of the guaranteed money through their crop insurance or drop the corn and plant beans there instead.

One issue with that is the “deadline” for beans is coming up soon as well June 10.

“It’s getting too late for (corn) to mature,” says Stromberg.

“God’s in control of all this,” says Warmka. “Lest we forget, He still controls everything. We are doing the best we can to help. We’ve been trying to tell Him every day, ‘We need some sunshine.'”

Stromberg says the greatest issue is the potential yield loss if the corn is planted too late. Also, with the sporadic planting, there will be a variation in the maturities of the corn, which may cause issues when it’s time for harvest.

“This is a tough struggle, but probably not as tough as we’ve had,” says Warmka.

He states the most difficult part is that there are very few days in a row that they have been able to get out and plant.

“You get one here, and a half a day here, and a weekend in between,” says Warmka of the days available for planting. “But that’s what we do. You’ve got to be optimistic.”

While it’s difficult for farmers to rely on weather predictions when they are a week out, there may be some blue skies and sunshine on the horizon.