Year in Review: Early to mid-season drought leads to August rains that save 2021 growing season
It was a decent year for agriculture, and the area's beef industry was highlighted with the Minnesota State Cattlemen's Summer Beef Tour in July.
REGIONAL — From perfect planting weather this spring to a nearly-ideal harvest period in the fall, the region’s farmers seemed to fare rather well in 2021, despite a mid-season drought that put the area into the moderate to severe category.
Farmers took advantage of a relatively dry spring to get their crops in the ground on time, but for most, rain was in short supply.
Clayton Schilling, a farmer from near Ellsworth, said in late June that he’d received just a few tenths of an inch for the entire month.
“Over by Kanaranzi, we caught two inches of rain. It’s just a matter of where you are this year — if you’re under the right cloud or the wrong cloud.”
Five miles northeast of Reading, Randy Lubben reported a bit more rain, but not as much as farmers south and east of Worthington, he said. Lubben recorded .33 of an inch on June 26, and another half-inch on June 28.
The lack of rain put crops on the edge, Lubben said, noting rolled-up leaves on his corn stalks.
“The good ground is doing alright, but anything that’s in lighter soil, it’s looking really tough,” he said.
By July, the region had moved into a moderate to severe drought, and remained there until the clouds finally opened up in early to mid-August.
In the Aug. 14 edition of The Globe, it was reported that the U.S. Drought Monitor had moved portions of southwest Minnesota out of a moderate drought and into the abnormally dry category.
In Worthington, just over two inches of rain was recorded between Aug. 5 and Aug. 11. The Aug. 5 rainstorm, however, brought with it strong winds to portions of Nobles County. Rural Adrian farmers Chad Wieneke and Jeff Bullerman, said they had winds clocked at 75 mph.
“We had two inches of rain in the gauge — that’s what we caught — in 20 minutes,” reported Wieneke, adding that he had about 600 acres of corn damaged and 100 acres that was totally flattened.
Bullerman had a 160-acre field of corn that was also flattened, but said it could be chopped for silage.
“There’s still a decent crop there — it’s just a matter of how well we can pick it up,” Bullerman said.
In September, just as farmers were gearing up for harvest, the federal government announced a $10 million drought relief package available to Minnesota crop producers.
In other agricultural news, the Rock-Nobles Cattlemen hosted this year’s Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Summer Beef Tour, featuring nine tour stops in Nobles and Rock counties. The event, rescheduled from 2020 — when it was canceled due to the pandemic — drew approximately 1,000 attendees.