Press-Republican

Columns

October 28, 2012

Feed in short supply

It started out great. A warm spring with dry fields, no flooding or mud like the disastrous spring of 2011.

For the most part, the spring of 2012 was pretty nice. Clinton County was spared the late frost that devastated the tree fruit crops in western New York and the Armyworm invasion turned out to be more of a small maneuver. However, while we were spared the worst of the drought that affected much of New York and the country, local farmers will suffer some of the after effects.

Nationally, the USDA has reported that over 1 million acres have been affected by the drought with conditions in 22 states classified as extreme or exceptional. More than $27 million in aid has been distributed to farmers by the National Resource Conservation Services for implemented conservation improvements which will lead toward building drought resistance into their operations.

With the early spring, many farmers planted earlier than normal and had great expectations for an exceptional year. When the weather warmed up and the rains didn’t come, many farmers in the Midwest saw their corn and soybeans dry up and become stunted. Because the worst of the heat happened during pollination, the corn ears and soybean pods never fully pollinated and as a result, yields this fall were disappointing.

Even here in Clinton County, the later cuts of hay and some of the corn crop did suffer due to the lack of rain in much of July and August. Corn fields stayed in pretty good shape, but by late August some corn had dried down and farmers began to harvest for silage. For local farmers to be successful, they need to grow much of their own feed, whether it’s for a dairy farm, poultry operation or feeding livestock such as beef cows, sheep or goats.

If enough feed is not grown on the farm, it needs to be supplemented by purchasing grains to maintain the production and health of the animals. With this summer’s drought being much worse in the grain-growing regions of the Midwest, prices of corn and soybeans have skyrocketed.

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