Flood and drought in the heartland
I crossed the Ohio River at Cairo, Illinois. It was obvious that the fields along the approaches to the bridge were planted very late due to the spring floods. On the Missouri side of the Mississippi River, I saw more evidence of flooded fields and late crops. Farms in the area were flooded last spring when the Corps of Engineers broke a levee on the Mississippi to ease the flooding in Cairo.
Most of the fields had young, broad-leafed plants growing in them. First, I thought that the little plants were probably soybeans. Then I wondered if they might be cotton, because southeast Missouri grows quite a bit of cotton. There are short-season cottons that will mature before frost, even when planted late. Whatever the crop, I'm glad some farmers in the river bottoms may get a harvest this year, despite all.
It was very dry north of Springfield, Missouri, where Charlotte (my sister) lives. My brother Dwight, who has a ranch southwest of Wichita, Kansas, says it is terribly dry there, too. He usually rents a couple of pastures to another fellow every summer, but when last winter and spring were so dry, he decided to sacrifice the extra income and keep all his summer pasture for his own cattle. He hasn't had to buy any hay yet.
Near Charlotte's house on the night that I arrived, a farmer was mowing the dried-up, stunted, mostly-dead corn plants in his field. A couple days later, he baled the stalks for cattle feed. The drought-stressed cornstalks may be high in nitrates, so the farmer will need to have the cornstalks tested so he doesn't accidentally poison his cattle. The cows won't think that cornstalk "hay" is very good, but they'll eat it if they're hungry enough.
This longhorn cow still has grass in her pasture near Charlotte's house. It has become hay on the stem, but that's much better than no grass at all!
Droughts and floods are problems for all of us, not just for farmers. These disruptions impact grocery store prices, affecting everyone who buys food. Please, pray for rain for those farmers and ranchers who need it -- and sunshine for those who don't need rain!