Farmers thankful for latest rain -- sort of - Quad-Cities Online: Employment

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Farmers thankful for latest rain -- sort of

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Posted: Friday, August 7, 1998 1:00 am

REINBECK, Iowa (AP) -- For Iowa's farmers, the recent rains have been a mixed blessing.

The weather did solve the problems a dry July created. But the rain also drove down crop prices -- prices that were low to begin with.

After getting about three-tenths of an inch of rain for the entire month of July, many areas have been inundated with rain this week, helping fill out corn and soybeans during their critical growing season.

Around Reinbeck, 5 inches of rain fell in a little more than 12 hours Tuesday and Wednesday, helping crops that hadn't seen much precipitation since Independence Day.

``We were definitely in need of the rain,'' said Marcus Norman, a crop production specialist at Central Counties Cooperative in Reinbeck. ``We could use it. We're getting to that point where we're filling out the kernels on the corn and the soybeans are setting pods.''

Bill Gutknecht, a Cedar Falls farmer, said the rain ``took the pressure off.''

It hadn't rained at his farm since the early part of July. Wednesday, Waterloo got close to 4 inches, according to the National Weather Service.

After a wet spring and dry July, yield losses at this point are probably in the 5 to 10 percent range in some areas.

But Gutknecht said if the dry stretch continued farmers may have been looking at yield losses ranging from 20 to 30 percent.

Alvin Adelmund, who farms about eight acres near Clarksville, said some crops were showing heat stress, but he doesn't think losses will be high in that area.

``It probably won't be all that bad,'' he said.

While some crops were beginning to show signs of heat stress, Norman said by no means were farmers facing a drought situation.

How much of the rain will stay in fields in unknown. With a hard, fast, rain and baked soil, much of the moisture ran off farm fields.

``A lot of it probably ran off,'' Norman said. ``It's good for everybody to have a little rain this time of year ... (but) we're still not out of the woods yet.''

For the remainder of the season cool temperatures are the key to turning out a good crop. Norman said barring any heat wave farmers may be able to add another three to four bushels per acre to yields.

Gutknecht expects he will see average or above average yields this fall, barring prolonged hot weather.

``I still think we've got a shot at some good yields,'' he said.

While rain has helped out farmers, grain traders at the Chicago Board of Trade react to the rain negatively. Weather events like the system dumping moisture in the Midwest tend to drive corn and soybean prices down.

That was evident on the trading floor Wednesday as both corn and soybean prices fell.

September corn fell 2 cents with both December and March corn inching down less than 1 cent. Corn prices range between $2.11 and $2.31 through March.

September soybeans dropped 8 cents while November and January futures dropped 6 cents each. Soybean prices through March range between $5.41 and $5.51.

Wednesday's dip continues a slide that has been hounding farmers for the past several months.

For example, on June 30, December corn stood at $2.59 and November beans were $6.16.

``The rain won't help keep the prices up, but I don't know how much lower that can go,'' said Gary Vogt, a farm management field specialist with Iowa State University Extension in Muscatine County.

He added prices could face additional downward pressure this fall as storage space becomes an issue after several large harvests.

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