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Iowa farmers needing more rainfall: 'We're on the edge of a serious situation'

Posted at 6:37 PM, Jul 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-20 19:37:04-04

GLENWOOD, Iowa. (KMTV) — Farmer Larry O'Rourke works with corn, soybeans, cattle and hay. Right now, his biggest need is more rain.

"With the heat that they're forecasting and some wind along with that heat, we're on the edge of a serious situation," O'Rourke said.

Why is it serious? He estimates he only had an inch of rain in July. The corn is entering a key stage where it needs lower temperatures and more moisture.

"We just need the rain to finish the crop. To fill out the ears, make the kernels large and have a good test weight," O'Rourke said.

Without rain, it will affect kernels on the cob, making them smaller and with a reduced yield.

"There's nothing we can change there. The expenses are in the crop so the more yield we have now, the more revenue that generates for the farm," O'Rourke said.

His love/hate relationship with the weather is similar to Dianna Mejstrik, another farmer in Glenwood who raises hogs and poultry. The dry season has doubled her workload.

"They need fresh, cool water this time of year. So, I'm out here two to three times a day changing out the waters and getting them fresh drinking water," Mejstrik said.

Mejstrik says being retired from an off-farm job is a "saving grace" for her. Otherwise, she does not know how she would maintain the farm. Especially with the lack of rainfall.

"There's no way I'd be able to keep up on all the chores and take care of the animals right if I had to work an eight-hour day," Mejstrik said.

With high costs of fertilizer and fuel, the summer's unpredictable weather adds another layer of stress for farmers.

"The higher expenses are definitely cutting into the possible profits, so that's again why we're hoping for good yields," O'Rourke said.

O'Rourke says the driest season he experienced was in 1977. That year the corn crop only made 10 bushels to the acre. In 2021 the average yield in Mills County was 210 bushels per acre, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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