When it rains, it pours. Just this week, Kansas State Research and Extension released a report showing downward pressure on corn prices because of a trade war — and as that report surfaced, a second round of rain in central Kansas brought with it areal flooding that could mean washing away of some row crop acres.
For ag producers, it is pouring.
“The ag economy is bad right now. Prices stink, conditions stink and there is not much a farmer can do to control either of those,” said Ryan Flaming, a Harvey County Research and Extension agent.
A series of rains, some quite heavy, has agriculture producers in multiple counties nervous about their summer crops — some of which have not even been planted yet, while others may need to be replanted if it becomes possible to do so.
According to the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network, as much as 6.68 inches of rain fell on southwestern Butler county in the 24 hours ending at 7 a.m. May 21, with parts of Harvey County reporting 5 inches in the same time period.
Steady rains since the first of the month have kept some farmers out of their fields.
“Row crops, and I mean corn, beans and milo ... corn and beans, what people are trying to do right now, is severely on hold,” Flaming said.
Kansas State University cropping systems specialist Ignacio Ciampitti said this spring’s conditions have been particularly vexing for the state’s corn and soybean growers, and it may cause many of them to rethink their management strategies.
“One of the main issues we are facing today is simply planting the crop,” Ciampitti said.
And for those who have planted, there are crops that might be in trouble.
“Corn, if they were able to get into the fields earlier, is drowning out,” said Tiya Tonn, coordinator for the Butler County Farm Bureau.
When a reporter caught up to her by phone, she was near Cassoday, trying to navigate roads that were partially covered with flood waters. Whether crops are drowning out depends, according to Flaming, on when they were planted.
“The corn that is up and has some size to it can handle some of this pretty well,” Flaming said. “A lot of guys held off on planting beans so that they would not get drowned out from the forecast of what they had coming. It is hard to tell for sure what will happen because we do not know for sure how much rain is going to hit.”
Ciampitti said in areas where there was excess rain, some corn fields had standing water, causing that crop to grow slowly, and after the water recedes, in some situations, plants will start dying.
It has caused concern for this year’s corn yields, but one solution could be replanting in some areas of the field. Ciampitti said farmers should scout their fields and make a determination on the number of plants affected. Farmers will then have a better idea on whether it makes sense economically to replant parts of the field.
Harvey County had rain forecast Friday through Monday. For neighboring Butler County, the forecast is much the same.
Both counties were posting road closures Wednesday because of heavy rains that led to aeral flooding.
And both are likely to lose at least some of the corn acres planted this year if producers are not able to replant.
Tonn tried to look at the bright side of all the rain, but that wasn’t easy.
“The positive side is that we are going into the summer months with our ponds full and good soil moisture,” Tonn said.
Even that, it seems, is a double-edged sword.
Reservoirs are beginning to fill, and they will need to start releasing water.
According to Flaming, that is not only because of the rains felt in Butler and Harvey County, but rains that have fallen farther north.
“Right now I would hate to be near rivers or reservoirs,” Flaming said. “Some of them will need to start letting out.”