After six weeks of dry weather, the rain from Hurricane Dennis is bringing smiles to the faces of Kentuckiana farmers. The latest weekly crop report issued on Monday says more than half the corn and soybean crops are in good or excellent condition. Caton Bredar has one Nelson County farmer's story.
John Mayer comes from a family of farmers and has been farming himself for more than fifty years. He says he had "just about given up on the crop prior to this rain." Now the rain "has us all excited again."
Mayer says about an inch and a half of rain fell on his land since Monday and was much needed, and " we need a whole lot more of it. The last rain we had," he says, "was seven-tenths of an inch during Memorial Day weekend, and that's since the first of May."
The current dry spell reminded Mayer of a draught in 1983, which is when he installed an irrigation system. The system only covers about forty percent of his corn field, but Mayer says the rain has definitely saved his soybeans, pointing out clusters of white blossoms between the green leaves. "Since it's rained," explains Mayer, "the soybeans have started to bloom."
The same is not true for some of the corn, which Mayer describes as "turning brown very rapidly and yellow," although the recent rain has helped. "It's responded a whole lot since it's rained," he adds. "It's coming back, but it's probably lost about forty percent of it's yield potential for the field."
Now that the rain has come, Mayer and the rest of the local farmers have other things to worry about. Deer and pests are minor irritations, but the conditions are perfect, according to the farmer, for rust, which can travel in the wind or in hurricanes and strike soybeans. As of yet, there haven't been any cases or rust in Kentuckiana, but Mayer says if discovered, the rust would have to be treated with a fungicide which could cost up to $25 an acre, and which might have to be applied several times.
Of course, even with the recent rain, weather remains a concern. As Mayer says, "you don't take anything for granted, especially the weather." Mayer says the crops still need an additional inch to inch and a half of rain through the end of August to reach their full potential. The unirrigated portions of his corn field, in particular, will depend on it. He thinks the most badly damaged portions of the corn will come back to produce some corn, "but it's been hurt considerably." And as for his optimism?