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Friday, July 13, 2012

Drought brings back memories of 1988 crop losses

Article Written By Christine Stebbins  | Reuters 
Just one year ago Jeff Scates saw the worst flooding on his southern Illinois farmland since 1937. Today, Scates is watching his corn fields shrivel from the driest season in 24 years.
"We've gone from one extreme to the other, from being flooded on three-quarters of the farm now to a drought," said Scates, 42, who with his family members farms 15,000 acres of corn, soybeans and other crops along the Kentucky-Indiana border where the Ohio and Wabash Rivers meet.
Scates said his corn is still in better shape than many fields of his neighbors, who farm sandier soils that do not retain moisture. Moisture is needed to develop a strong root system to sustain plants in the hottest months of July and August.
He says this growing season is reminiscent of the summer of 1988, when the central Corn Belt had significant crop losses. Field conditions were hot and dry early this spring, similar to what happened 24 years ago when local crops, especially corn, were disseminated by lack of summer rains.
"Clearly it's one of these nasty droughts. If it doesn't surpass 1988, it certainly is going to rival it or be among the so-called great droughts we've had in the past 30 years," said Bob Nielsen, extension agronomist at Purdue University, who recalled his time as a crop advisor in 1988 to Indiana farmers....

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