Last year's weather was devastating for farmers in Michiana. Early warmth and severe drought meant really stressed crops in 2012.
This year's weather has obviously been a complete flip-flop from last year. Although it's hot now, overall, it's been much better for crops.
So we went back to the farm we visited last year at this time to see how this year’s cooler temperatures and steady rains have helped in the fields.
Last summer the dry soil was created by extreme heat and very little rain. It really stressed our corn crop. Ed Leininger has been farming since the 70's. He was not hopeful last July.
“Anything short of a miracle I would be surprised if this does make anything,” says farmer Ed Leininger.
Today’s soil on Leiningers farm is moist and the temperatures are great for growing corn.
This year we are sweating because it is humid and wet,” says Leininger. “This is what the corn crop needs, it is 80 degree weather and so it’s flourishing right now.”
And for Leininger it is a welcome sight to see the growth of his crop. Although it was planted two weeks later than last year, it was right on time for the average year.
“Last year we had corn that was fired up and the leaves were pretty well burned up and the corn was half this tall,” says Leininger. “Today it's flush and green.”
And a check of the stalks shows how Mother Nature is helping our area farmers relax.
If everything keeps going it is going to be a bumper crop of corn this year. And if the entire country has a bumper crop, prices go way down, so Ed will store his corn in bins and sell it later when the price goes up.
“Normally you can store it a year if your aerate it and take care of it,” says Leininger.
And a plentiful harvest of corn will also help all of us at the grocery store.
“If grain prices stay down the livestock producers should be able to keep their numbers up, which would give a good supply of meat and milk products,” says Leininger. “They should be able to afford $5 corn after last year $8 corn was expensive. From that view point it should be less expensive for the consumers.”
And with a third of his business tied up in soy beans Leininger is also keeping an eye on their growth.
“They're starting to blossom and they'll shoot blossoms for quite some time,” explains Leininger. “And some of them will abort and some will make pods. And if the weather is right it will make pods and the weather we what we got right now. Last year even the beans were rolled up. By 9 o’clock in the morning the leaves were all curled up.”
The sounds of 2012 are still fresh in Ed Leiningers mind but he hopes Mother Nature can keep doing what she has been doing this season.
We are more on time this year. Last year we were pollinating early, and between the first and second week of July we normally hit pollination so we are close,” says Leininger. “We still have July to get through pollination and some rains in August for rain fill. It's pretty critical yet, so we have a good start, we have about six weeks to get a better crop.”
As you heard, 2012 is a year most farmers like Ed will never forget. It is for the record books, but he is optimistic we are in a good pattern for temperatures and rain fall during the rest of the summer.
So what do we see for the next six weeks to help the farmers get through the critical growing stage?
Well at the moment, it looks like much of the rest of July will be warmer than normal, but then it probably turns cooler in August. And, it still looks like occasional rain, which is good. That's something the fruit farmers are also excited about.
We'll see how they're doing this season Wednesday Just Before 6.