Drought conditions have affected much of Nebraska. In our area in south-central Nebraska particularly in our southern tier of counties, we’re seeing brown pastures and alfalfa that stopped growing. Wheat was harvested nearly a month early and yields range from 0-50 bu/acre depending on if it was hit by the hail storm Memorial Day weekend which totaled it out.
I’m unsure how many planting dates we currently have in Clay County! The spring planting season went so well with corn and many beans being planted in April. Soybeans planted in April that haven’t received hail are forming a nice canopy. Corn that hasn’t received hail should be tasseling by beginning of July. One Clay Co. field planted in March was only 3 leaves from tasseling when I took this picture this week and looks great (it’s probably 2 leaves by now!). Adding another picture from a farmer friend Bob Huttes near Sprague, NE showing his field currently tasseled out and love the smiley face barn 🙂
But then there’s the hail damaged fields. The hail pattern has been fairly similar all year for this area of the State with some producers receiving four consecutive hail events on their fields. Every week of May was spent helping our producers determine replant decisions, particularly for soybeans…leaving irrigated stands of 85K and dryland stands of 60-65K when beans were smaller before stem bruising was so severe later. We would leave a stand one week and end up needed to replant after the hail hit again the following week. Some farmers got through the first two hail storms but the Memorial Day weekend storm did them in. I never saw hail like where ground zero of this storm occurred. After replanting after that weekend, they received yet another hail storm last week with the wonderful, much needed deluge of rain we received in the county. My heart hurts for these farmers yet for the most part they have good attitudes and are making the most of it. That’s the way farming is…lots of risk, thus an abundance of faith and prayer is necessary too. One farmer I talked to has had hail on his house seven times this year (including prior to planting).
Pivots have also been running like crazy prior to the rain last Thursday night where we received 3.30-4.40 inches in the county. Installing watermark sensors for irrigation scheduling, we were able to show the farmers that there was truly moisture deeper in the soil profile and attempted to convince them to hold off. It’s a hard thing to hold off on water when the neighbors are irrigating, but several farmers who didn’t irrigate told me they were able to let the rain soak in and their plants weren’t leaning after that rain because the ground wasn’t saturated prior to the rain event.