Farmland Faces Two Years of Weather Extremes

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By Stephanie Tyrpak
By Jared Roberts

JACKSON COUNTY -- Crops are struggling to survive in the extreme drought conditions. It's the complete opposite of last year when too much rain flooded fields.

This spring was off to an early start, with many farmers believing that this year could be a great harvest. Now that the rain has stopped, their optimism is starting to dry up.

"There's definitely no water," said farmer Carl Heins. "You don't have to worry about that part."

Just one day of rain last week was enough to give Heins hope for his 3500 acres of corn and soybeans.

"Most of our corn had not had over an inch and a half of rain since we planted it," said Heins.

In 2011, more than half of his farm was underwater.

"You could boat ride about anywhere in the bottoms almost," said Heins.

A nice spring allowed Heins to get a head start on planting, but the dry conditions kicked in earlier than normal as well.

His crops are doing better than many in the region, and he's not giving up just yet.

"It'll be something," said Heins. "It'll just be less."

River bottoms farmers have seen two extremes, going from heavy flooding last year to very dry soil.

So far, many of the crops have held on, and some of the corn has started to tassel. However, it's critical that rain comes in the next couple weeks.

"Its one disaster to the next," said farmer Rodney Beckman. "So its kind of tough."

The heat and drought have already taken a toll on Beckman's farm in Jacob.

"It's a lot shorter and brown," said Beckman. "I don't think it's going to put on an ear."

Flooding left half of Beckman's field ready to plant in 2011. This spring, he was excited to get the corn in early.

"It'll probably be worse than last year," said Beckman. "We put all the money out there this year to produce a crop, and now you're not getting one."

Any rain may be too late for some of the corn fields, but could save the soybeans.

All Beckman can do is watch what he had hoped to be a great harvest struggle to grow.

"You know you have crop insurance," said Beckman. "You know you're not going bankrupt, and you just kind of put it out of your mind."
Marion Regional
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