The Drought

Courtesy of Farm Bureau member John Parker –

If you live in town, take some time to travel around the county. You will see some fields of corn and soybeans that look to be very good.  And then you will see some that are in trouble and probably won’t make a crop.  In our area we are considerably more fortunate than further west where fields will have zero harvest.  But remember, what happens out there on the farm affects your pocketbook.

As you watch the news media, you get a little idea of the serious situation we are faced with as a country.  Every day estimates of yields of corn and soybeans drop and that will hit all of us in the pocket book.  Crop reports across the country indicate the situation is much more serious than the mainstream media tells us.

Both corn and soybeans are crops that are used in many different ways, more than we realize.  There are about 500 different uses for corn, many that we don’t realize.  Three of the main uses for the crop are for ethanol, corn sweeteners and livestock feed.  And corn starch is widely used in hundreds of products

We’ve all heard discussions about ethanol and most gasoline’s today use 10 percent of the fuel.  This has reduced our need for imported oil and provides a feed by-product for livestock.

Many food labels, and we should spend time reading them, indicate that corn syrups are common sources of sweeteners.  They are used because they are less expensive than regular sugars.

Many of us enjoy corn as a breakfast food and we snack on corn chips.  Corn oil is used in baking and is found in many foods.  Whiskey is another product made from the grain.

Corn starch is found in a host of products.  To list just a few, they include adhesives, instant and ready to eat foods, batteries, cleaners, trash bags, hair styling products, baby powder, laundry dryer sheets and many more.  Oil well drillers also use a corn starch product to cool hot drilling bits as they go down into the earth.

Many uses are also found for soybeans from foods to paints, solvents, textiles and more.  Agricultural products impact us in many ways, not just with our food supply.

Reports indicate local crops vary considerably.  Early planted corn and soybeans had a good start and put down roots to help get moisture during these dry times.  They look good.  Late planted crops don’t have the root depth and are suffering.  So we are seeing some big differences in local crops.

If we can get a couple of good rains in the next month, and those late last week helped, local growers believe they can have some decent crops.  But we didn’t get nearly enough.  One problem is high temperatures, such as those approaching 100 degrees during pollination, will hurt pollination and ear formation.

Good quality first crop hay was made in the area, but the tonnage from the fields was a bit light.  Now there is practically no second cutting hay because of the dry weather.  It just didn’t have a chance to re-grow.  Local farmers feel that there will be a shortage of hay supplies this fall and winter. 

Today’s disaster situation locally in many parts of the country illustrate our dependence on agriculture, our farmers.  They have provided us with an abundance and would have this year but they can’t control the weather.  It’s always a risk.