Rain welcomed by farmers

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 5/10/00.

Planting With a majority of the crops planted, area farmers were hoping and praying for rain last week. Their prayers were answered Sunday night as the area received anywhere from one to two inches of rain.

"The rain was awesome," Melody Hoeft said Monday morning. "It was just what the doctor ordered. Everybody is in a better mood."

Pat Kearney, Kandiyohi County Extension Director, said the rain was well needed rain, but the area is still four inches below normal for this time of year.

"The crops will need one inch of moisture a week during the growing season," Kearney added. "This rain will help get the crops up out of the ground, but the crops still have a long ways to go."

Following the rain, Ron Spanier, who farms near Lake Henry, said beans shot up and now can be seen in rows. His rain gauge showed 2.1 inches of rain. The rain also cleaned off the rocks, making them easier to find and pick.

The dry weather has put planting ahead of schedule. Jerry Hoeft, who farms northwest of Paynesville, can't remember when he has finished planting corn this early. Last year he finished planting corn on May 25.

Hoeft finished planting his corn on Friday and debated if he should start planting soybeans. "The seed can lay in dry ground. If there is enough moisture, it will grow; if not, it won't rot in dry ground," he said.

While planting corn, Hoeft found moisture about four inches down, but the top soil was powder dry.

On Friday, Richard Lahr, who lives east of Paynesville, finished planting corn and soybeans early this year. "The ground is dry," he said. "I try to stay optimistic. I guess I can store the soybeans in the ground as well as in a shed."

Lahr explained that corn needs to be planted about two to three inches deep because it has a root system which grows deeper into the ground to help sustain the taller growing plant. Soybeans are planted relatively close to the surface, as the plant doesn't grow that tall.

Cyril Spanier, who farms north of Paynesville, was surprised at how good the oats and corn were coming along last week. Like Hoeft and Lahr, his soybeans were laying in dry dirt, waiting for rain on Friday.

John VanderBeek, agronomist at the Paynesville Farmers Union Co-op, said farmers have never had such good planting conditions. "Depending on the field and its locality, corn and soybeans have found moisture," he added.

Roger Bagley, manager at the Regal Elevator, agreed that the planting conditions this spring have been perfect, something that doesn't happen too often. "The texture of the soil has been ideal, requiring less tillage," Bagley added. Bagley estimated that 90 percent of the corn in the area has been planted and 60 percent of the bean fields are completed.

VanderBeek said the seed beds were ideal for planting. "Farmers should be looking at a good start-up for crops. Crops don't need a lot of rain right now. A half inch would help a lot.

Rain won't alleviate the drought, VanderBeek added. Wetlands will probably have little or no water or be dry all summer. "What we need are timely rains to help the crops. Between now and harvest time, a million things can happen and probably will," VanderBeek said.

Dan Martin, county extension director, advised farmers to check their fields following Sunday's rain. "If there is compaction caused by the rain, farmers will need to drag or rotory hoe the fields to help the plants get through," hesaid.

"It was a nice rain which will give the crops a good chance to germinate," he added.

The farmers agreed they will probably see a short first crop alfalfa cutting because of the lack of moisture. "The heat last week helped the crop mature," Kearney said.

Lahr said we need rain to get alfalfa with good feed value. If there is no rain, there will be just that much less hay to harvest.

While the rain Sunday is a start, what fields still need is rain spread out over a three to four-day period, Kearney said.

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