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Farmers, ranches begin to feel impact from heat

Last week’s rain, which measured a little more than an inch in Paris, brought some relief to area farmers and ranchers but more is needed, several said in interviews conducted last week.

Prior to last week’s rain, the area was hot and dry for about three weeks and things were starting to dry out. The county is listed as abnormally dry with a section of eastern Logan County in a moderate drought, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor report issued last week.

“I’ve got places in corn and soybean fields where the ground is starting to crack open because it’s so dry,” said Mike Schluterman, who grows corn, soybeans and wheat in the McLean Bottoms north of Paris. “I need rain this week.”

A day later, it rained, but another farmer in the bottoms, James Albert Komp, said it wasn’t enough.

“It didn’t hardly rain in the bottoms,” Komp said last Thursday. “We got almost four-tenths of an inch at Gray Rock.”

Meanwhile, Joe Don Koenigseder, a cattle rancher and hay grower who lives near Scranton, uttered the dreaded D word, as in drought.

“It’s been 10 days or so of 95 to 100 degrees and it’s starting to look like a drought,” he said. “Pastures are down 50 percent and in another week to 10 days, it’ll be 25 percent. Fifty percent is half of what it should be. Instead of six inches tall, it’s three inches tall.”

Earlier this week, there was a 30 percent chance of widely scattered showers in Logan County. However, the familiar weather pattern of hot — highs in the mid- to upper-90s — and dry conditions is in the forecast.

For farmers in the bottoms, the wheat crop was good. The corn crop is looking pretty bad, Schluterman and Komp said. The success of the soybean crop depends on the amount of rain going forward.

“Corn is taking a whipping right now,” Komp said. “Beans could still do something.

"Some corn is already dead. It's going to be a light crop. We still have a chance on soybeans and we've got nearly enough hay.

"You have to take the good with the bad," Komp said.

“I planted about 700 acres of corn,” Schluterman said. “Probably 150 acres of that needs to be cut down for silage because there are no ears on the stalks. The corn crop will be 50 percent below normal.”

The good news is it’s not nearly as hot and dry as last year and hay looks good, for now.

“Hay was looking like an abundant crop,” Schluterman said. “But if it stays hot and dry, I’m wondering if I’ll have enough.”

“Our hay crop has been exceptional,” Koenigseder said. “I’ve got 2,100 round bales and I usually 1,200 this time of year. I’m sitting pretty and I’ve got enough to make my year. But, I sold half my herd last year and I don’t want to start feeding hay right now."

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