June 23, 2011

Rain, Rain, Go Away - Come Back Another Day

While April showers bring May flowers, continued wet weather through June has once again left Scotland County residents riding a tidal wave of trouble courtesy of Mother Nature.

On June 27, motorists were forced to change their routes in several areas as heavy rains Sunday evening forced numerous road closures across northeast Missouri. In Scotland County the Missouri Department of Transportation closed Route C at the South Wyaconda River 3 miles west of the Route 15 junction; Route H at the North Wyaconda River three miles from the Route 15 junction; and

Route T at the North Fork Middle Fabius River almost two miles west of Route 15 near Bible Grove.

Little league games and softball tournaments have also struggled through a summer of postponements and cancelations as has the Scotland County Speedway, which has only been able to open for racing on three of the scheduled Saturday nights in Memphis.

Those inconveniences are paled by the economic impact yet another wet planting season could have on farmers.

With crop prices rising, the last thing local producers wanted to see was another year washed away by Mother Nature.

Local farmers took advantage of some good weather in April to get ahead of schedule, but scattered precipitation combined with a number of heavy storms has let the crop outlook uncertain.

"We definitely have more crops in the ground right now than we did last year," said Tonya Bradley of Bradley Insurance. "Talking with some of the farmers we insure, the rain has really been hit and miss."

She highlighted a number of storms that dropped large quantities of rain in one part of the county while only sprinkling just 10 to 15 miles away.

With planting deadlines already passed for corn (May 31st) and soybeans (June 20th) farmers are faced with difficult decisions regarding preventive planting claims as well as replanting decisions.

Thus far only 82 of the 875 preventive planting policies in Scotland County have filed claims according to the Federal crop Insurance Corporation. Those claims represent approximately 8,000 acres negatively impacted by the weather.

While that's a lot, it's a far cry from 2009 and 2010, when more than 500 claims were submitted each year, with more than 90,000 acres impacted each year by the wet weather.

But the 2011 numbers are not official yet.

Earlier this year Edward Hamill, executive director of Missouri Farm Service Agency, announced that reports of prevented planting acreage will be accepted through July 31, 2011. This change gives farmers additional time to report prevented planted acres. The extended deadline applies to all crops except small grains.

"Under normal circumstances, producers would report acreage they were unable to plant due to disaster within 15 days of the final planting date for their particular county," Hamill said.

Hamill explained producers must report crop acreage they intended to plant, but due to natural disaster, they were prevented from planting. Prevented planting acreage must be reported on an FSA-576, Notice of Loss.

Scotland County FSA Director Gary Kittle expects the local 2011 numbers could increase.

"Driving around the county right now, you see a lot of ground that has not been able to be planted due to the weather," he said.

With a little shy of four inches of raining falling over the weekend, Kittle noted that June is shaping up a lot like 2010 when 13.82 inches of rain were recorded in Scotland County. The most recent storm brought the 2011 totals for June to 13.25 inches.

"That brings us to 29.56 inches of rain this year, which is well above the 30 year average of 15.98 inches," Kittle said. "With a lot of that coming in June, it definitely has farmers running out of time once again."

While Scotland County appears to have fared better than in previous years as far as planting goes, producers will now have to wait and see what impact continued heavy rains will have on the crops in the ground.

Flash flooding has taken its toll on areas of bottom ground in Scotland County.

"You hate to say it, but the bottom ground really needs a little rain shower after the flooding resides to wash off the plants," Kittle noted. "It's not as hard on the corn, but the mud and dirt left behind can really hurt the soybean plants."

Kittle added that the weather is taking its toll on winter wheat, which is in its harvest stage, as well as the hay crop.

"I had one farmer tell me he wasn't going to mow any hay until he gets his beans all planted," Kittle said. "I'm guessing if he stayed true to his word he hasn't made it to the hay field yet."

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