The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Spotlight: Heavy Rains-Not All Bad

Jim Clayton, Quill Reporter

There are a plethora of causes and outcomes being published in regard to this year's harvest.

The damaged Ozone, global warming, rain, floods, cold and heat have all been mentioned as having had an adverse effect on crop yields, prices, and quality.

Time and practicality do not allow an exhaustive study into all of these sources. We will stick with just a few.

What many consider to be the foremost authority on the subject, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) which gets their information straight from the farmers themselves.

The source for crop production and harvest is based on an 18 state report from the USDA that accounted for 93% of the corn harvested in the United States last year.

The states include Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri - the tri-state area (also included are CO, IN, KS, KY, MI, MN, NC, ND, NE, OH, PA, SD, TN, TX, WI).

In 2007 these states had harvested 92% of their corn by November 9th.

This year with the November 9th crop report the combined total was 71% (with nearly a 20% discrepancy in Illinois alone).

We talked to several area farmers in an attempt to see if these numbers held true in Hancock County.

Mark Burling of Burling Farms in Carthage is very pleased with this year's crop.

Even though the planting season was really only beginning at the time it is usually finished in the spring Burling said, "The weather we had this summer was ideal for growing crops.

"We may have some wet corn for this time of year, but the yields are up 20% over last year."

Not necessarily the dismal outcome that was expected by many.

Burling continued, "We were about three weeks late and the corn is not at optimum levels in regard to moisture content, but our yields were high enough for us to be able to use more time and expense in the drying of the corn."

Burling did express concern for those who were closer to the river farming closer to the river.

"These are the types of years you don't want to have when farming bottom ground, I hope there was enough surplus in past years to help offset this year's damage.

"I know bottom ground is very rich in nutrients and part of the reason is that the moisture level stays higher and flood levels do increase the nutrient level.

"But, it (the spring flooding) is a shame and must be a great challenge for those who farm that land."

In La Harpe, the outcome was much the same. Gary Schroeder of Schroeder Farms believes he will be done in the next week to ten days weather permitting. "The late rains have thrown us off some, though our yields are very good," he said. "We are unusually late in bringing in the crops, but I do believe that we had more loss due to high levels of rain in 1993."

"We were three weeks late planting due to the rain, but we did have an ideal summer for crops. Yields are at least as good as last year," continued Schroeder.

Wayne Corzatt, who also farms in La Harpe, believes he too will be finished in the next week to ten days.

Corzatt said, "Right now we are being affected by wet ground. I think the absence of heat during this year's season has been a major factor on the high moisture content we are experiencing right now."

"Over the years I have heard several people who farm elsewhere comment about our area," Corzatt mentioned.

"Many of those who farm elsewhere come through here and comment about our lush fields and have referred to our area as a "garden spot'."

In the 18 state report done by the USDA the national average of crops that are actually finished is 71%. It seems that Hancock County at least, is ahead of the curve.

So, in spite of reports that global warming, a hole in the Ozone and many other such difficulties, which have even included Armageddon, many area farms are doing very well.

However, that is not the case for every farm in this area and as for this writer and The Quill staff, our thoughts and prayers are with those who did have more catastrophic results due to the heavy rains this spring.