By Kevin Fox
The recent rains have had many people, especially local farmers staring at the sky and looking for two sunny days in a row. Aside from the high water, which has a great many acres of farm ground underwater, the farm ground that may be accessible is still too wet to work. According to officials with the Farm Service Agency, farm work is around two weeks behind the normal year with only 15% of the corn crop being planted as of May 8th. If it seemed like a wet spring to you then you were right. April saw an above normal amount of rain with a total of 4.87 inches of rain compared to an average of 3.47. In April of 2007 the county received 3.66 inches of rainfall compared to a dry 2006 April where the county only received 2.43 inches of rain. A normal month of May sees the county receiving 5.54 inches of rainfall and through May 1-May 8 of this year, the county received 1.28 inches of rain or 23% of the average monthly total. In May of 2007 the county received 4.35 inches of rain and again during a dry 2006, the county received .81 inch of rain.
It's not just the sky that's being looked at by Clark County farmers, they are also closely watching the calendar in that each day that passes can affect yields in the fall. Traditionally speaking most farmers strive to have their corn in by mid may with the first part of June begin considered the latest. After that time period yield is severely affected the reasons for this are two-fold. The first being a shortened growing season and the second being how much fuel will have to be spent to dry the corn in the fall because of the shorter days and cooler temperatures.
So while farmers already have plenty to worry about besides the rain and the calendar running out on them for optimum planting time, what else do local farmers have to worry about? Well, they have to consider the same thing that's on all our minds and that's the increase in the cost of fuel. Among the changes that the Farm Service Agency has seen directly related to fuel cost is the increased interest in no-till farming. There has also been an increase of farmers not working too far ahead of their planters, in that if they have to return to a field to work it again in front of the planter, the costs has just increased even more. So as farmers get a field worked up they are now planting right behind that work, so that a rain does not come along and require them to return to the field to work it again before planting. The cost of fuel has driven other costs up as well including seed, and chemical for example. The cost of putting an acre of corn in is now in the expensive neighborhood of $250.00 and the cost for beans is around $150. This does not take into account the additional costs of $100 to $150 an acre if you are cash renting the ground.
Officials with the Farm Service Agency added that if we receive a numbers, of days with sun and wind along with warmer temperatures, the amount of ground that is planted can change quickly, but unfortunately that's not what's in the forecast.