By Amy Kent
Herald Staff Writer
After a late start because of heavy spring rains, unseasonably cool temperatures and the lack of summer rain are now taking a toll on farmers and their crops this season.
Rains in April and May caused some planting to be delayed to nearly the beginning of June, a very late start for corn planting.
“Typically our corn planting window is April 15 to May 15. This year I planted my last seeds on May 30,” Clinton County Farm Bureau Director Dustin Johnson said. “It’s hanging on but we need some heat and moisture.”
The late start is not the only thing farmers have been struggling with this year.
July, the optimal time for crop growth, only accumulated approximately two inches of rainfall and Sregistered some chilly temperatures in 2013.
“July indicates a good corn crop. That’s where we are getting into the heart of the weather affecting the yields. This year we have had kind of a delay,” Johnson said.
July usually averages 3 to 5 inches of precipitation and temperatures in the 80s, ideal weather for farming. Regular rainfall and hot, humid temperatures put corn yields at their highest.
“If I could order the weather, like I order McDonald’s, I would order sunny days around 85 degrees, cool nights between 55 and 60 degrees and an inch of rain a week,” Clinton County Farm Bureau President Joe Dierickx said.
High daily temperatures are necessary for quality growth but if temps get too high, the risk of drying up the crop becomes more likely.
Although conditions have not been ideal this season, Dierickx said the crops are looking better and stronger than they did last year at this time.
“This crop looks better than last year, it’s not all burned out and tired. We were getting there, but we got that little shot of rain (last week). That really helped,” Dierickx said.
At this point, farmers must accept the fate of what Mother Nature has given them, and take each day in stride.
“You can complain about it but there’s not a whole lot you can do. You just plan for the best, prepare the soil and give the crop all the potential it can get,” Johnson said. “Take care of the land and the land will take care of us.”