Just enough or not enough

We farm in northwest Iowa and what rain we have gotten this year has been very hit and miss with some fields dying out while other fields have had just enough rain to hang on. We were fortunate enough to get a good rain at the end of June but saw no rain in July and, like everywhere else, lots of heat all summer. Fields in the area are also starting to be cut for silage with some completely dried up, but other fields only have to lose the edges, high spots, sandy spots and other areas where the rain didn’t come or dried too fast.

The corn fields around here have all grown full height and put out ears, in most areas though there just wasn’t anything to fill the kernels out, and that’s where the fields have dried themselves out trying to fill out in this heat. The corn that has remained definitely has signs of stress, nearly every field has burned up at least a few leaves and some plants are putting out tassel ears just to grow something. The beans have been able to hang in there but they aren’t doing much either. There are more flowers now and some pods are in place with the recent rains, but are hardly filled with anything. The lack of rain all July has allowed spider mites to take hold and wipe out some fields a bit further south of us.

Everything in our area has depended on luck with our hit-and-miss showers. Some areas will be fortunate enough to have a harvest but across the fence there may be nothing. If we can keep our recent rains coming things may work out and hang in there, but everything that’s left is just barely hanging on.

-Submitted by Dan Gehlsen, a corn and soybean farmer in northwest Iowa.

Chill Out Already

Summers in Kansas are relentlessly hot. So when the opportunity to move back home to South Dakota came earlier this year, as summer was fast approaching, I didn’t hesitate for a single moment. Of course, other factors contributed to my desire to move north, but another three solid months of upper 90s and 100 degree temperatures was anything but appealing.

I think I brought the scorching heat with me. The summer started fine with seemingly normal temperatures and the usual early June thunderstorms here in South Dakota. But as June passed, so did the moderate weather.

So, a second straight summer of constantly battling heat has me thinking about what I’ve missed out on, and how the extreme weather has impacted my usual summer routine.

I love to ride my motorcycle. But I don’t like riding when it’s a gazillion degrees. Some might think that when flying down the highway at 70 miles per hour, the wind would provide some relief from the heat. But, from my perspective (FULL DISCLAIMER: I ain’t no scientist), the faster I ride, the hotter it is. I don’t know if it’s the fact that when moving down the road the rider hits more air molecules or what. Because the wind provides ZERO relief, I’ve not done much riding, putting on maybe 1,000 miles since April.   

My target shooting has also taken a backseat to air conditioning. I could go to an indoor shooting range like the one at Gary’s Gun Shop, but that gets expensive fast. I typically go shooting with friends on some private land south of Dell Rapids where my only expense is the ammunition. Due to the excessive heat, only a few times have I mustered up the motivation to brave the elements and pop off a few rounds. I sure hope that the million-to-one chance I ever have to use my weapon for defense doesn’t come this summer, as my ability to hit a target has probably waned.

Enough is enough. Chill out already, Mother Nature!  

-Submitted by Argus Leader Digital Reporter Joe Sneve

Better for some, worse for others

The U.S. Drought Monitor released information today indicating drought conditions are improving in South Dakota overall, but worsening in others.

The reports shows crop conditions are improving in northeastern counties in South Dakota because of recent rainfall but counties closer to Sioux Falls, like Minnehaha, Lincoln and Union, are experiencing further degradation.

You can view the drought monitor site here.

Are conditions where you are getting any better? Send us your thoughts, photos and videos, to Drought@ArgusLeader.com, and we’ll post them.

From Onida

As in much of the area of South Dakota, “dry and hot” best describes the conditions in central part of the state in the area northeast of Pierre on the east side of the Missouri River. We have had some “scattered” rain showers in the area, but the crops here have relied upon “hit and miss” showers all summer. This area has not gotten an old fashioned “2-3 day soaker” all growing season. There is no question that this area has been negatively impacted by the dryer conditions than normal, which was only accented by the extreme July heat.

 The hay and pasture crop yields in this area were considerably lower than normal so the short hay forage supply and pastures limited stocking rates are putting pressure on area livestock producers to provide ample feed for their winter feeding needs.

 Due to the drought, there are some fields of corn already being cut for silage in the immediate Pierre area along with some windrowing of corn fields to be baled for winter forage. We have not started to cut silage on our farm yet, however, we are weighing options to salvage forage for cattle at this time.

 Much of the dry land corn condition ranges from “short, dry and  brown looking” to some taller greener areas in some fields. This next week’s weather will likely be a big deciding factor if there will be much of a corn grain harvest in this area. With all other factors in place, rain water is so critical along with the heat and humidity to determine potential yields. There is no doubt that yields have been drastically affected with very little moisture and high heat during growing and pollination periods of most of the fields of corn in our area.

 Our operation does not have any irrigated crops, so I cannot comment firsthand about the conditions of irrigated row crops, but the extreme heat and lack of rain water, coupled with high energy demands for pumping water to the crops has likely been a challenge to area irrigation farmers as well.

 This area of the state uses mostly a non-tillage practice for raising non-irrigated (dry land) crops, a method where farmers try to leave as much crop residue from the previous crops as possible on the surface of the soil as a mulch cover to help preserve moisture along with other benefits. However, with dryer than normal conditions this year in our area we simply lacked ample rains, and had too much extreme heat to grow a normal yielding corn crop.  However, the lack of moisture and extreme heat is critical for Soybeans and Sunflowers as well.

 I would encourage anyone in this area and other areas to email to drought@argusleader.com  anything that pertains to the drought conditions in your area of South Dakota and the Midwest where you might be reading this.

-Submitted by Bob Yackley of Onida, SD. a member of a family farming and ranching partnership with headquarters in Onida, S.D., northeast of Pierre. The Yackley operation raises corn, soybeans, sunflowers, winter and spring wheat along with a commercial cow-calf operation and operates a cattle embryo collection business. 

Dry, hot conditions impact life for all of us. Whether it’s farmers wondering if crops will get enough rain, ranchers worrying about overheated animals or kids looking for entrainment during summer break that doesn’t involve swimming, every one of us has to take weather conditions into consideration when making plans, short term and long.
But the impacts varies from person to person and place to place. We’re asking you to let us and our readers know what the dry, hot summer of 2012 has meant for you.
Send posts, photographs and videos pertaining to the heat and drought, along with a description of who and where you are by emailing Drought@ArgusLeader.com.

Dry, hot conditions impact life for all of us. Whether it’s farmers wondering if crops will get enough rain, ranchers worrying about overheated animals or kids looking for entrainment during summer break that doesn’t involve swimming, every one of us has to take weather conditions into consideration when making plans, short term and long.

But the impacts varies from person to person and place to place. We’re asking you to let us and our readers know what the dry, hot summer of 2012 has meant for you.

Send posts, photographs and videos pertaining to the heat and drought, along with a description of who and where you are by emailing Drought@ArgusLeader.com.

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