Weather has farmers watching the skies, their calendars

Friday, May 28, 2004

This time of the year, a calendar and the Weather Channel seldom get far from soybean grower Neal Bredehoeft's view.

The west-central Missouri farmer has learned over the decades that crop-planting can be a race against the clock. Getting seeds in the soil by the first week of June tends to produce better yields, conventional wisdom goes.

That's if weather cooperates. And lately, it hasn't.

For nearly two weeks, only about half of the Bredehoeft family's roughly 1,000 acres near Alma have been planted, with the rest of the work delayed by a run of drenching rains.

Too much moisture has not been a problem for Southeast Missouri, according to Gerald Bryan, agronomist at University of Missouri Extension Center in Jackson.

"Here we're actually on the dry side. A month ago we were nine inches below normal," Bryan said. "We've had some good, hard rains in May."

Even with the occasional rainy day in May, Cape Girardeau is still somewhat below the average May rainfall of 4.75 inches. As of Thursday, Cape Girardeau had received 4.17 inches of rain during the month of May.

Heavy rains are in the forecast for Cape Girardeau until Memorial Day, said David Humphrey, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Paducah, Ky. Next week the weather should be drier, Humphrey said.

According to Bryan, most farmers in Southeast Missouri had already planted their soybeans before this week's heavy rains fell and there has not been enough rain in most of the area to cause seeds to rot, Bryan said.

The Missouri Farm Bureau's Kelly Smith said other Missouri-grown crops appear to be faring well despite the rains.

However, farmers in Southeast Missouri have had to face another problem -- birds eating their corn seed.

Bryan said this is the most wide-spread bird problem that he has ever seen, covering farms from New Madrid County to Perry County.

There is not much that can be done about the problem other than to replant, Bryan said.

Staff writer Kathryn Alfisi contributed to this article.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: