2013: Flood/drought year

This field was not planted at all this season.

This field was not planted at all this season.

By Marcie Klomp

It has been a crazy year with rain, rain and more rain from spring into June. For the past month, farmers and gardeners have been praying for rain.

Anyone driving the highways and byways of northeast Iowa and southern Minnesota never know what they will see in the next field they pass. It could be a good crop of corn or a mediocre crop of corn. It could hold beans or oats and rye or just plain old weeds.

From the end of May (corn) into June (beans) farmers had some decisions to make—to plant or not to plant. Those without insurance (a small percentage of farmers) were pretty sure they were going to plant. They needed to get any sort of money out of the season.

Those with insurance could decide not to plant. Others didn’t have a choice since they had lake-front property where they used to have a field.

After the waters cleared, there was that decision again—to plant or not to plant. Some farmers decided to plant a cover crop. By planting something . . . anything, they practiced soil husbandry by preventing erosion and building up the soil with organic matter. Cost was a factor, though, since planting anything costs money.

Darrel Elsbernd of CIA Insurance in Lime Springs said after deciding not to plant a corn or bean crop, some planted a cover crop right away, while others waited until July.

Diversified farmers, who also have animals to feed, opted for a cover crop to feed their animals. But there are rules with that. They cannot hay or graze until after Nov. 1 and those who planted a grain crop, such as oats, rye or beans, cannot harvest at all.

All-in-all, it has been a trying year for most farmers in this year. First they struggled to get the crop planted, then they ran out of moisture. Now they are hoping the frost holds off.

Agriculture areas have not been struck as hard by the current recession as metropolitan areas, but that is because there have been some good crop years. It is hard to say what the coming year will bring with a poor season in 2013.

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