Too much of a good thing can often be a bad thing and that is the case with this past weekend’s wet weather, as some farmers are beginning to worry about late crops as well as hay that has been cut recently.
Colby Guffey, Clinton County’s Extension Agent for Agriculture and Natural Resources, said Clinton County has received almost five inches of precipitation in the first week of July.
According to the Kentucky Mesonet, 4.77 inches of rainfall has hit Clinton County since Tuesday of last week.
“According to Kentucky Mesonet, for the year 2012, Clinton County had 41.04 inches of precipitation. Since the first six months of 2013, we had 33.17 inches, but 2012, you have to remember, was a drought year,” Guffey said. “We are kind of on-line for a normal amount of rain fall, but it has rained enough each day to cause a lot of problems.”
In addition to the farmers who had hay cut and down on the ground during the past five or more days, tobacco farmers in the area have also suffered with some lost and damaged crops according to Guffey.
“We’ve not had as much as Adair, Green and Taylor counties. They’ve had 10 inches in the past two days. We are fortunate … we’ve had a lot of rain, but not as much as they’ve had a little bit north of us. We are going to have some with a loss on the tobacco crops. Already, there are some leaves that have flopped down on the stalks. The soil was already saturated and then we’ve had all this rain on top of that, so it’s going to be tough.”
Guffey said when farmers have hay on the ground, the most frustrating thing to happen is for it to get wet.
“Getting it rained on, even slight amounts of rain, causes nutrient loss in your plants because a lot of your nutrients are water soluble,” Guffey said. “That’s the biggest issue, besides having to go back over and redo what you have already done, that’s just adding more dollars to the hay crop.”
Even if farmers have to redo their hay, Guffey thinks most farmers are working on their second, event third round of hay this season, so their losses will not be as devastating, just inconvenient.
Even though the drastic amount of rainfall during the past week has some bad points, there has been some good to come out of the unusual weather.
“The good thing is during this first week of July, the average temperature has been 77.5 degrees. Last year it was 97.8 degrees during this week,” Guffey said. “What a difference a year makes. Before last week, I wouldn’t have thought anybody would have been complaining about the rainfall because of what we had last year to compare it to.”
Other than hay and tobacco, Guffey said this year’s corn crop is looking good so far.
“Obviously if it is in standing water it’s not going to be good on it, but the corn crops look really good compared to what it did last year,” Guffey said. “This time last year, we were already chopping corn for silage just to salvage it. The early corn crop is starting to make corn right now and this is going to be pretty good conditions on it. The 97 degree weather we had last year really hurt the early crops and it killed the pollination on it.”
Farmers can get a forage analysis to test their hay crop to see if it has the nutrients needed for their cattle.
“It’s a good tool to use to be able to manage their feed in the winter months,” Guffey said. “We can come out and take a represented sample of their hay and send it to the lab and they will send us back a nutrient analysis on it. If farmers need to supplement any concentrates or if they want to know which group of cattle that hay needs to be fed to, then they will know.”
Some studies within Guffey’s department indicate that rainfall in amounts of an inch can reduce alfalfa nutrients that will directly reduce milk production by 13 percent if fed to dairy cows.
“Every time you lose leaves, you are losing nutrient value,” Guffey said. “Even hauling it in during extreme dry conditions can cause nutrient loss.”
During the past week, rainfall has left the county saturated, which can lead to plants becoming diseased, but Guffey said, statewide, there hasn’t been any outbreaks of blue mold in tobacco crops.
“As wet as it’s been, we’ve had issues with fungal diseases on tomatoes, but we don’t have any blue mold in the state as of today. Spores have to be present in order for blue mold to produce on plants, but right now, the first week of July, there isn’t any in the state. Other fungal type diseases we will have to watch out for.”