Summer rains set stage for a ‘really great fall harvest’


Double-cropped fields like this one south of Hillsboro have a chance to produce a good harvest, thanks to mulitple rains this summer. Rickey Roberts, Marion County extension agent, said the area received not just a million-dollar rain, ?but maybe the 10-million-dollar rain, or even the tens of millions-dollar rain. I think this is tremendous.?

Marion County farmers have received the proverbial ?million-dollar rain? in recent weeks, and local observers predict the economic impact will multiply until everybody benefits.

Agriculture watchers struggle to find an adequate euphemism to describe the benefit of the timely rain that arrived earlier this month.

Rickey Roberts, Marion County extension agent, said the area received not just a million-dollar rain, ?but maybe the 10-million-dollar rain, or even the tens of millions-dollar rain.?

?I think this is tremendous,? Roberts said of the unusually wet and cool weather pattern. ?We?re set up for a really great fall harvest.

?It just goes to show how quickly things can change in Kansas,? he added.

During the Marion County Fair at the end of July, Roberts said he and most of the producers he talked to were lamenting the string of dry, 100-degree days.

?The guys at the fair were talking about how the soybeans couldn?t take that heat much longer,? he said. ?The beans were trying to set pods, or they were blooming, and the heat was baking them to fall off.

?Then, all of a sudden, wow, the rain came.?

A couple of boosts

The first big weather boost for Kansas farmers actually occurred back in July after Hurricane Dolly hit the Texas coast, according to the U.S. Weather Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The weather service tracked the remnants of that hurricane from northwest of Brownsville, on through Texas and the northern mountains of Mexico, to where it curved to the northeast and arrived in central Kansas.

At the time, the typical high-pressure system of summer had set in with 100-degree heat and dry conditions. Hurricane Dolly intervened with much-needed rain.

Then, heat settled back in during late July and the first days of August. But Gulf moisture?perhaps with some help from Tropical Depression Eduardo that hit a large area around Waco, Texas, and beyond?combined with a Canadian cool front carrying Pacific moisture.

It was Marion County?s ?perfect good storm.?

?We had a three-day period that gave us about 6 inches of rain with not much run-off,? Roberts said. ?It was a really good, nice, easy rain that just soaked in. There was no 6-inch gully washer that just sent the water off down the road.

Economic blessing

?It was just a blessing,? Roberts said. ?Sunday morning in church we were talking about everybody wanting economic development. If you wanted the greatest economic development tool we could have, this rain is it. This rain has made everybody money.?

He said the impact will be local and national.

?This rain has put money into agriculture, and that?s just great for all of America,? Roberts said. ?Our main industry in this county is agriculture, and when there?s money in agriculture, you just can?t beat it.?

Multiple crops affected

Roberts said he agreed with a statement that there?s never been so many soybeans in Marion County, and the beans possibly are ?the most consistently good? he has ever seen here.

But the same assessment applies to much of the production-agriculture scene in Marion County this year.

Even though the corn grown here is largely of the short-season variety and is nearing the end of its development, Roberts said the rain probably will result in fuller corn ears.

?You simply drive through the countryside, and everything growing here looks lush,? Roberts said. ?It?s a very unique situation. By this time of year, the pastures are usually browning up. They?re green (now). I?ve never seen the pastures look this good this time of year since I?ve been in Marion County.

?The milo is heading out, just at the right stage for some rain, and it should do very well.

?And the bromegrass?it?s growing like it usually does early in the year. We may even get a second cutting of hay.?

As for the double-cropped soybeans that were planted into wheat stubble, Roberts said the rain gives them a chance to make it to harvest?something that looked unlikely prior to the weather change.

?This gives those crops a good fighting chance now,? Roberts said. ?It was looking pretty bleak for them for a while. But there are still things that have to happen for them to make (a profitable harvest).?

Roberts predicted the benefit of the moisture could carry into wheat planting in fall. Not only would there be more moisture in the soil, he said, but if the cool weather continues, cheat grass and volunteer wheat could come up early enough to be eradicated.

Roberts said even with grain prices dropping, the rainfall is highly beneficial.

?We know we?re always going to plant something, and grain prices are still good,? he said.

Effect on prices

According to USDA reports, grain prices reached highs in June and early July amid concerns over flooding and other weather-related topics. Corn reached just below $8 a bushel, but December futures prices are around $5.70 a bushel.

Soybean trading reached a high just short of $16.37, but in early trading last week had declined to just above $13 a bushel.

USDA said the declines were due to ?shifting fundamentals,? including lower crude-oil prices, declining ethanol margins, slowing corn exports, increased wheat feeding, and some reduction in livestock feeding.

The agency said farmers were able to recover from flooding along the Missouri and Mississippi river valleys, and it predicts the second-largest corn harvest and the fourth-largest soybean harvest in U.S. history.

As for this area, the weather service said the cool, wet weather pattern was expected to hold. It said another strong upper-level, low-pressure system was tracking out of Canada, and would bring rain and cool weather into the Plains states Thursday through Sunday (Aug. 14-17).

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