Showers bring brief relief

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 4, 2007

May flowers are nice, but April showers would be better for farmers, said Butler County Extension Agent Anthony Pinkston.

A brief amount of thunder showers this weekend and on Monday have provided county farmers and their crops with some relief from the heat, but Pinkston said it's still too early to determine what consequence lack of rain will have across the state.

Although Pinkston couldn't deliver exact rainfall numbers, he estimated the county received approximately half-an-inch of rain over the two-day period.

He said the county is still six to eight inches below where it needs to be.

&#8220Planting has been delayed on some crops,” said Pinkston. &#8220Corn has probably been the most affected. The later you wait to plant it the less yield on the total crop. Hopefully, we can catch up on the rain. It's hard to tell.”

Pinkston said lack of rain isn't the only thing hurting farmers. Unseasonable warm spring temperatures have created a &#8220double-whammy,” drying up both fields and grass.

&#8220I'm sure homeowners aren't liking it as well because they've had to turn on those air conditioners earlier than expected,” he said.

Pinkston said a drought like the one suffered by the state last summer could be potentially devastating for farmers, and cattle owners in particular.

In January, Agriculture & Industries Commissioner Ron Sparks said little rain in the summer months of 2006 meant a significant reduction in hay across the state.

&#8220If we don't get these folks some help, the cattle industry will take a hard hit, harder than they have experienced in many years,” said Sparks at the time.

Pinkston said while some cattle farmers did sell off individual cows during last year's drought, there was no widespread selling of herds during last season's drought.

&#8220But if we don't have the hay this year a lot of folks are going to have to sell,” he said. &#8220Once they sell, they won't be able to buy back the cattle for what they sold it for so they'll suffer a loss.”