Lack of rain source of concern for local farmers

By Carly Nicely

Next week will determine if corn growing in the area will develop properly.

If the next two weeks does not bring rain, the corn will have to suffer nature’s lack of moisture and the fields will be at high risk of producing much undeveloped crop.

“Right now is the crucial time in how the corn is going to develop because this is the time of summer when the corn is pollinating and the tassels and kernels start to develop. Without rain, an ear cannot form and no ear means no corn,” said Mariam Wassmann, director of information at the DeKalb County Farm Bureau Center for Agriculture.

Wassmann, who has been working for the DeKalb County Farm Bureau for 25 years, said there has not been an extreme drought like this since the summer of 1988.

“We have had a dry summer, but we also had a dry spring, so the fields have lacked moisture more so than in the drought of ‘88,” Wassmann said.

Nature did spread some relief to fields July 4. DeKalb farmer Walt Lambert reported over an inch of rain that day, but that was not enough to solve the extreme drought.

Farmer Kevin Faivre has been exposed to farming all his life and has begun to farm within the past six years. Along with other farmers in the DeKalb County area, he is concerned with the corn progression this summer.

“We have only had five to eight inches of rain since April and the corn is starting to go into a shock stage and in this stage, it begins curling in a defense against the heat and when it begins to do this, it means that the corn is drying out,” Faivre said.

Faivre said DeKalb County is a very important area for developing corn because it is one of the flattest counties in Illinois.

Wassmann said farmers are hoping for rain because the corn ears are already turning into curled, spiky, pineapple-like objects. No precipitation would only worsen conditions for the corn.

“Our area provides a great deal of corn to other areas around the country and underdeveloped corn affects the economy,” Wassmann said.