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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

  • The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

    Traveling around the Midwest earlier this month reminded me of the movie, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. There’s a mix of about everything this growing season.

  • The good

    Let’s start of with the good. Literally. This mid-June corn field belongs to Doug Good, Boone, Iowa. This canopied corn, planted on soybeans, and an adjacent corn-on-corn field, exhibits the “bloody green” color of an excellent crop. Conditions in this pocket of central Iowa have been wet, but there isn’t the standing water that plagues fields just a few miles away.

  • Hawkeye fan

    This sign on one of Good’s buildings caught my eye, particularly since there are some Iowa State University (ISU) research farms just a few miles away.
    “I love it,” chuckles Good, a diehard Iowa Hawkeye fan. Being a Hawkeye fan in the middle of Cyclone country shows there’s room for every type of sports fan in Iowa.

  • The bad

    Now onto the bad. Fields further south in central Iowa, like this one around Polk City, have been inundated by June rains.

  • Iowa State University Southeast Iowa Research Farm

    Another place hit hard by heavy rainfall is the Iowa State University Southeast Iowa Research Farm near Crawfordsville. Tours for its June 15 field day were cancelled and the program was moved inside due to the week’s abundant rainfall.

  • Remember 1988?

    Remember 1988? That was the last time a major drought ripped through the Corn Belt. That year, the Crawfordsville site received just 12.91 inches of precipitation. Already in 2011, 15.72 inches of precipitation has fallen. This is on the heels of 44.22 inches and 43.87 inches of precipitation falling in 2009 and 2010, respectively.

  • Sioux River

    South Dakota has been another state hard hit by spring flooding and June rainfall. At this point, the Sioux River in southeastern South Dakota was full, but most of it was still within its banks near Trent.

  • Saturated soils

    Unfortunately, there are nearby areas where recent flooding and prolific rainfall has saturated soils. That’s also been the case in states like Illinois. Saturated soils can cause root damage and nitrogen loss, notes Emerson Nafziger, University of Illinois Extension agronomist.

  • Winter snowmelt, heavy rains

    The situation worsens as you move into northeastern South Dakota. Winter snowmelt, compounded by heavy spring rains, has prompted drowned-out crops, skips, and uneven growth.

  • Expectations are better

    There’s one small bright spot, though. Compared to 2010, the 2011 crop is not as large and not growing as fast during heavy June rains, says Nafziger.
    He notes last year’s corn was much larger when soils became saturated during a warm June. Due to the crop size, plants died or suffered root damage. Expectations for recovery this year are better, but only if good drying weather occurs before permanent root damage results.

  • The ugly

    Now the ugly. This is the Brown County-Marshall County line near Claremont, South Dakota. It’s a mile west of the farm where I grew up. Water lapping up to the roads is typical in this area.

  • Losing a home

    It gets worse. This is a farmstead west of Claremont where one of my high-school classmates, Brian Nietert, once lived. Flooded farmland is one thing, but losing a home to flooding is a heartbreaker.

  • Not a floodplain

    You might think Claremont is in a floodplain, but it’s not. Flooding has been been caused by recent years of heavy rainfall and snowfall. In normal years, the farmland around Claremont is some of the state’s best.

  • 125th anniversary celebration

    Local residents are not letting all this get them down, though. Entries in local parades good-naturedly point out that Claremont now has several flood-free roads leading into it. It’s just in time for the town’s 125th anniversary celebration this weekend. Way to go Claremont!

Traveling around the Midwest earlier this month reminded me of the movie, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. There’s a mix of about everything this growing season.

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