Area farmers battle hot, dry conditions

The lack of rain and extreme heat is affecting everyone, especially farmers.

They need rain and cooler temperatures to help produce even a partial crop.

“We have quite a bit that looks like this,” said Ed Leininger, St. Joseph County farmer. “A rain doesn't do much good for this one, this is pretty much a total wipe out.”

Leininger has been farming since the 70's. He said some of his crops are already lost to this year’s weather conditions. “Anything short of a miracle I would be surprised if this does make anything.”

But the crops he is irrigating will make a yield. He also took News 16 through a productive field, one where the water table is higher. He said he looks for specifics when trying to find a good plant.

“Well this one is in pollination right now,” he said. “You see the silks are starting to turn brown and get the pollin off the tassles to come down on the silks and the brown silks will break off then and form a kernal eventually.”

Leininger said it’s not enough moisture for these corn plants.

“We are easily going through a quarter inch of water a day going through these plants and so a half inch lasts us two days,” he said.

Phil Sutton with the Purdue Extension in St. Joseph County said that the lack of moisture is just one of the stresses on the plants.

“Pollination can be thrown off because of these hot temperatures and the water stress on the plant and throw it out of kilter,” he said. “Once they get pollinated, if it is under extreme stress they will start aborting and say I can't fill those kernels.”

Leininger added, “It is just trying to do everything it can to stay alive to produce seed. I call it the dying mother syndrome, it starts sacrificing things so its children, its seeds can live.”

Leininger said farmers should be getting close to harvest when it sounds like that and it should be late September when they begin to see that, not July.

Leininger was happy about the early planting weather, but is worried now his fields need cooler temperatures and lots of rain soon..

“Pollination is the first step then we need rain to build the kernel size and fill out the kernels out it,” he said. ”We still need the rain to keep this thing going. There is not enough moisture in the ground to keep this thing going, the plants will start to canibalizing, you see them fire up from the ground up. It has a way to go.”

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