Farmers make plans as the drought persists
By Jean Caspers-Simmet
Date Modified: 09/10/2012 3:01 PM
CLARKSVILLE, Iowa — Rain and cooler temperatures brought a welcome break from the summer-long drought, problems remain.
"We have a problem out here," said Ted Lovrien of Clarksville during an interview Aug. 7. "We're about 7 inches behind normal on rain."
Lovrien, his wife, Wanda, and their sons Nick and Ben raise 2,000 acres of corn and soybeans.
The rain hasn't been nearly enough.
"We get our hopes up but it never happens," Ted said. "We're in August. I don't know if rainfall is really going to help the corn any more. We're coming to the end of the growing season. It gets to the point where you want to get this year out of the way and move on."
He said the corn is cannibalizing itself.
Ted estimates that his corn crop will be 60 percent to 65 percent of normal. He expects to start harvest shortly after Labor Day. He said farmers want to harvest as soon as possible because of poor stalk strength.
Ted is still optimistic about soybeans. However, he expects a yield decline of at least 25 percent.
The dry weather has brought spider mites and he's sprayed some fields.Ted said some beans have few pods and some have a lot of pods but they're not filling.
Ted said 2012 is worse than 1988.
"It's terrible to watch what you work so hard for wither away," Ted said. "It's the risk of farming. We've had many good crop years prior to this."
Ted has crop insurance.
"You can't farm without crop insurance," he said. "With prices today, we'll be okay. You just have to let things play out."
Ben Lovrien, who has 80 to 90 cow-calf pairs, started feeding hay in early August.
"I don't crowd my cows on pasture," Ben said. "I leave plenty of acres per cow, but things are drying up."
Ben bought cows from drought-stricken Oklahoma and Texas last year.
"This year we're right in the middle of it," he said.
Lon and Lyle Etnier, who farm in the Sheffield/Rockwell area, came to a Aug. 8 drought meeting in Allison to find out when they could start feeding the silage they finished chopping late last month.
Extension livestock specialist Russ Euken told them to wait a week, and it should be fine to feed. They have been feeding silage since early July and should have just enough from last year to get them through until they start feeding the new silage.
"All our pastures are dried up," Lon said.
They have 70 cows and usually feed out the calves. This year with the price of feed and good calf prices, they've been selling calves.
The father and son raise 1,550 acres of corn, beans and hay and have about 125 acres of pasture.
It's the earliest Lyle, who is 72, has ever chopped silage. There weren't many ears on the plants.
"There were a few good spots, but a lot more bad spots than good spots," Lon said.
The Etniers have crop insurance so when they chopped they left strips of corn standing for the insurance adjuster.
Their beans don't look good, Lon said.
"We're thinking about making hay out of them," Lon said. "We have pods, but there's nothing in them."