If it's feast or famine, farmers are stuffed
The torrential rains and high winds that rolled through the area last week put an end to any late seeding plans in McHenry County.
An estimated two to four inches of rain fell in just a couple hours on Thursday afternoon, causing washed out roads and flash flooding across the region. High winds uprooted trees, downed power lines and raised havoc with buildings as the storm tore across the state.
After a mostly sunny weekend, the area received another two to three inches in the early morning hours on Monday. Yet another thunderstorm hit Tuesday morning around 4 a.m., and while this one brought only one-half to one inch of rain, the already saturated ground sloughed it off into ditches, streams and rivers.
As a result, the Souris River, along with local streams, are rising, and more rain is predicted for the rest of the week.
All of this moisture is both a blessing and a bane for the local agricultural community. While cattle producers are looking at abundant hay crops and green pastures, farmers have left fields unplanted and watched yet others wash away in the rain.
McHenry County Extension Agent Raquel Dugan-Dibble estimates about seven to ten percent of the county’s cropland went unseeded this year, due to the moisture. But she added the unplanted acres are still down from last year.
“The biggest problem now is nitrogen deficiency and drown-outs,” she said. “The longer the water stays standing, the greater the injury to the crop.”