Archive for Wednesday, September 4, 2002

Lack of rain taking its toll on area

September 4, 2002

Despite a couple of recent rains, the lingering effects of a summer of near drought in the Baldwin area are being felt by farmers and townsfolk alike.

Corn has dried up way too soon. Soybeans, while still green, aren't going to be much. That's what the farmers are saying anyway. Aside from the brown lawns and dead flowers, the drought's effects are taking other turns in town, such as the fire call Monday night where a gas meter had been ripped away from a house because the ground was compacting because of no moisture. The ensuing gas leak luckily didn't cause a major problem.

While the Baldwin area hasn't seen the magnitude of drought that's zapped western Kansas, rainfall totals here are anywhere from six to eight inches below normal. That's hit farmers worst of all.

"I'm afraid it's going to be a dismal harvest," said Mike Craig, who farms around the Vinland area. "We have to be thankful for what we have. It isn't as bad as it is out west. But we're starting to see it. We live by the corn and beans and we're seeing that they just aren't there.

"It's dry. It's really dry," Craig said. "It's terrible."

Craig has seen it coming. His alfalfa field by the Vinland Airport usually produces 30 bales per cut and that's what it did for the first two cuts. That wasn't the case for the third cut and the last cut only produced one bale.

He's cutting corn silage now and there just isn't enough of it. He had to cut 20 acres of his other corn just to fill the bins.

"I did have to cut some just so I'd have enough," said Craig, who feeds his dairy herd with it. "It's taking about twice as many acres of silage corn to do it. The corn on the stalks are few and far between."

If you've seen silage fields with a few rows left standing after the rest of the field has been cut, that's another sign of the drought.

"Those are for the insurance adjuster to look at in the field," he said. "We have to leave three rows."

Then there are those soybeans that at least provide some green in the fields.

"The poor beans," said Craig. "I'm afraid they're done, too. I've heard a lot of guys are mowing and bailing them. They're green, but I'm afraid there just isn't anything there. I think when the leaves turn and fall off, we're going to see that there aren't very many beans there."

Once he's through with the silage harvest, Craig thinks he'll be able to move on unfortunately to the rest of the corn.

"As soon as we get done with this, we'll start on that," he said. "We've already cut one field and it was only 40 bushels (to the acre). It was pretty sad.

"We hope most of the rest of our corn isn't like that," said Craig. "We've got some around the state lake that's looking pretty good. It had two more inches of rain than the corn around the dairy."

If that's not all bad enough, there's more. The drought-like conditions have produced one bumper crop grasshoppers. They're starting to take their toll, too.

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