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Published August 13, 2012, 10:22 AM

Waiting for rain

I was trying to think of something to write about this week and I thought I should write about the drought. Then we got an inch of rain. I guess I should have had that thought a lot earlier when it could have helped the crops more

By: Ryan Taylor, Agweek

TOWNER, N.D. — I was trying to think of something to write about this week and I thought I should write about the drought. Then we got an inch of rain. I guess I should have had that thought a lot earlier when it could have helped the crops more. Still, I’m glad we got it.

I’m sure other columnists around the country have been thinking and writing about drought. Too bad they couldn’t get those thoughts to turn into rain like I did. I know writers have the ability to move the minds of people. If we could move weather patterns, we’d really have something.

On the ranch, things could be worse. The dry weather is drying up hayland that was too wet to cut last year, so there are quite a few bales to be made there — a little poor in quality, but plentiful in number. Pastures are pretty yellow looking, but by sheer luck, we sold calves last winter that we normally would have grazed as yearlings, leaving a little more pasture for the cows this summer.

Corn around the country is in tough shape, and soybeans have lost plenty of yield, they say. The farmers with winter wheat up here have been pretty pleased with a crop that made the best of a warm spring and a dry summer. But there’s no denying how dry it is.

The really sad part about this year’s drought is how widespread it is, with something like 1,600 counties in 32 states meeting the designation of drought disaster.

It is getting attention, and it should. Too often, people take agriculture for granted. And we take Mother Nature for granted and don’t realize that good golfing weather can be pretty poor food-growing weather.

We assume there’ll always be food at the grocery store, and it’ll be affordable. But if 32 states aren’t getting the rain they need to grow that food or produce that meat, we’re going to see some changes to the ticket total in the checkout lane.

By the numbers

It’s interesting to see the statistics on this drought and heat. Like baseball fans, weather watchers like the back story brought on by the statistics.

For the United States, it’s the warmest 12-month period since they began keeping detailed records in 1895. It’s the hottest July in history, beating 1936 and surpassing the 20th century average by three degrees. It’s the most widespread drought since 1956.

I’m sure North Dakota had a piece of the hot July in 1936. Makes me wish Dad was still around so I could bounce these statistics off of him and hear what he remembered of 1936 as the Depression and dust wore on.

I know he bought his first registered Quarter Horse stud in 1956 in Gillette, Wyo. Maybe the far flung drought that year caused a little stock to move hands, including horses. It still must not have been a bargain basement price because it took him 50 years to tell Mom what he paid for that horse.

I hear a few of this year’s and this drought’s stories. I hear about the corn with no ears that gave up growing after the first few feet. I hear about the heartbreak of the sudden three-inch rain that couldn’t seem to cross the interstate highway to help out a few more people.

And if all it takes is the thought of a column on drought to bring another inch of rain, you might see this topic more than once. Whatever it takes.

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