Weather Forecast


A 'multimillion-dollar' rain graces area farm fields

Corn grows Monday in a field in southeast Willmar. The rain of recent days bought a smile to the faces of some local farmers who, with the recent dry spell, had feared a drought this year. Tribune photo by Gary Miller

WILLMAR -- Just as the long dry spell -- and talk that compared this spring to the 1930s drought years -- was starting to make farmers edgy, a timely weekend rain fell over the region.

"It was a multimillion-dollar rain," said Byron Hogberg, director of the Farm Service Agency in Renville County. "It was needed."

With corn in the $4-a-bushel range and soybeans over $11, getting rain at the right time is important.

"We're talking some pretty big cash crops," he said.

Rainfall in Renville County ranged from 1 to 2.2 inches, said Hogberg.

In Kandiyohi County most farmers were reporting three-quarters of an inch of precipitation, said Wes Nelson, Farm Service Agency director in Kandiyohi County.

"We could've used a little more," said Nelson. "But we're hopeful we've broken the dry spell."

The rain will help "dry dirt" soybean seeds germinate and will give new crops that have already emerged, like corn, a needed boost. It could also mean a better second cutting of hay.

"It put a lot of smiles on the farmers' faces. It's just what we needed," said Nelson. "We're all happy here."

The dry spring and endless wind had dried out the top soil on many farm fields.

Duane Adams, who farms one mile east of Cosmos, said that since May 1, his corn and soybean farm had received only 0.7 inches of rain.

While his crops didn't really show signs of early stress, the same couldn't be said for his nerves. Adams said he was "emotionally concerned but visually not."

He got between 1.3 and 1.5 inches of rain over the weekend. "We're out of the woods for 10 days to two weeks for sure," said Adams. "It should set us up pretty good for a better-than-average crop."

Nelson said it's surprising how good the crops actually look, considering the lack of rain and the cool weather this spring.

Hogberg said advanced technology that has helped develop drought-resistant seeds may be the reason why crops look so good even under stressful weather conditions.

"That's why a bag of seed costs so much," he said.

There is a positive side to not having too much rain in the spring. Besides a smooth planting season this year, good sub-soil moisture means early crops set deep roots that will be beneficial as the season continues, especially if there's another long dry spell.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

(320) 894-9750