HOMEGROWN Life: Living The Dream (Sort Of) - Drought On The Farm


| 7/9/2012 10:53:00 AM


Tags: drought, farming, missouri, irrigation, crop insurance, climate change, Farm Aid and Homegrown.org,

 

I am one of those people that does not actually believe the grass is greener on the other side of the hill. I am neither pessimist nor optimist. I am full of passions and gut-wrenching opinion but understand that others feel the same way. I am not a judge. I have a hard time with black-and-white thinking.

So that is some context for a rant I wanted to leave you with on this Independence Day: I want to rant about drought.

Drought is hard on us out here in Farm Country. But drought in the midst of boiling hot summer is amongst the worst conditions I can imagine. At this point in West Missouri we’re numerous inches behind on rain for the average year. (Note--I am not trying to be un-precise here. It’s just that we’ve had so many spot-showers it’s hard to
specific. On my farm, we’ve had right at 3 inches of rain since April 1st. April-May-June being a bulwark of the year’s annual precipitation jolt--between 12-15 inches per year on average. Some farmers have gotten more, others less). We normally get around 40 inches of rain per year, but maybe we need to get around to figuring out the “new
normal.”

Since I’ve moved home to where I grew up last Fall, I’ve already experienced 2 droughts. One was the Fall of 2011 where farmers in the area sold off many cows and other animals due to lack of pond water and low hay yields. The other is now 2012 Spring on the heels of a mild and gentle winter. While local winter wheat yields made the great leap forward, corn and beans are going to be non-existent. Hay crops had the great promise of many cuttings (some people were cutting hay in March and early April--that’s unheard of around here) but now our pastures are parched and won’t grow a bit until rains and sub-90-degree temperatures return.

The lack of rain and poor preparation for drought are likely intensified on a vegetable operation. Piping in water is a fine thing, but there is nothing like a good slow and soaking rain to let plants get established and healthy. We have not had that. Many of us have waited and waited and waited to transplant our seedlings into the field so that soil moisture isn’t completely decimated. And if we got rain, it was too late. Now, temperatures are above 95 degrees with heat indices of above 100 for a couple of weeks. There is no sign of relief.




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