Farmers:‘Pray for rain’

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September 14, 2013 - 12:00 AM

Mother Nature, fickle gal that she is, teased farmers this week, but could make a huge hit if she were soon to cut loose with a good rain.
“We need a rain,” to keep soybeans on track, said Vance Beebe, 55, who has farmed full time northwest of Iola for nearly 40 years.
 “The beans looked good until the month of dry weather,” Beebe said. “They’ve probably lost 10 bushels (in per-acre yield).
“Two weeks ago they still were putting on pods, but I don’t know how many have dropped off” because of lack of rain and hot, sunny days.
Soybeans are a hardy, drought-resistant crop, genetically engineered to go into a growth holding pattern when the temperature rises to the high 80s.
“The leaves turn over and they just sit there,” Beebe said.
Rainfall, within the next week or two would make a world of difference in yields of the more mature beans and help later ones.
“Beans are different,” from other crops, namely corn, Beebe allowed, in that a heavy dew and light shower, coupled with moderate temperatures, can have them progressing toward harvest in a positive manner. “Corn needs heavier rain to do it any good.”
Even so, corn is an after thought at this point, with the preponderance of the harvest to start in about two weeks.
A little corn has dribbled in to Piqua Farmers Co-op over the last week, but not enough to make judgments on yields, said Manager Ken Smail.
“Quality has been good, though,” he said.
While it’s difficult to make a good pre-harvest estimate of what corn will yield, Beebe thinks it will be “fine on the better ground,” and at the very least “better than the last two years.”
He has pulled a few ears, to check development, but admitted “it’s hard to guess yields,” even for a veteran farmer. “The later corn is going to be better than the early.”
This year’s weather defies statistics.
Going into this weekend the Iola area has an excess of about 6 inches of rain, compared to annual averages. The timing of rain, more so than the amount, is what’s critical.
“The hot, dry weather kept some of tassels from pushing through” the top of corn plants, Beebe noted, which meant pollen didn’t fall onto silks peeking from the husks of fledgling ears. That’s the first step in determining whether an ear fills in robust — and high yield — fashion.
When the rains came, a chance of good yields improved, only for the weather pattern to change again. Thursday’s light shower was the first moisture since Aug. 13.
There’s a chance of rain this weekend, and “a better chance next week,” said Beebe, who like most farmers is closely attuned to daily forecasts.

EARLY SEASON rain led to good summer pasture — given a boost by late July and August downpours — as well as more than ample hay crops, with the hay being a little heavier, and more nutrition, than in some years.
The August rain also helped with fall pastures, which was welcomed by Beebe, who has a cow-calf operation in which he feeds out calves to 700 or 800 pounds.
Beebe started farming full time in the mid-1970s, when his parents built a new home and moved from the home place where he was raised.
“I stayed, and actually have never lived in another house,” Beebe said, and has no intention of moving.
His farming operation isn’t a one-man show.
In addition to wife Donna, their son, Kevin, and son-in-law, Owen Newman, report each day for chores.

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