Regional farmers request rain - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Regional farmers request rain

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PRESTON, Minn. (KTTC) -- Aside from the Mason City area which has received less than an inch of rain since June 20th, the Rochester area hasn't had measurable rain in 18 days.

The trend is expected to continue through the weekend, leaving farmers wondering how long will the trend last.

Near Rochester, irrigation systems were in full swing as the corn crops soaked in the much needed moisture. But man-made rain isn't possible in Fillmore County because of the rolling terrain, leaving the future of the crop to chance.

"The thing is we started out short," said County Extension Educator Jerry Tesmer. "We did get some rain in May when we needed it. But we needed rain all summer long and we haven't been getting it."

Tesmer has been monitoring the farming activity in the Preston area. "You look into the field you can see some taller corn that's maybe six foot, seven foot tall. That corn has been doing well so far. It's going to need moisture in the near future," he said.

With a seven day forecast of clear skies, it's not just the plants that are feeling the thirst. "The other thing we are seeing is insect damage. I'm believing this could be European Corn Borer it could be something else," said Tesmer. "They're looking for moisture themselves and they do more damage."

Lifelong Preston farmer Randy Hahn has his eye to the sky, however not just because of his corn.  "We're still going to have some areas in here that are very critical," said Hahn.  "And we forget about a very important crop. And that's our hay crop."

Brown circles are beginning to appear in Hahn's fields.  "We're concerned with the fact of not any rain," he said.  "Will one week be enough? Will it be two weeks? Will it be three weeks? this is going to be a dead spot in our ground from here on out."

In the case of alfalfa, the root systems grow five to six feet deep.  So even just a light rain won't always do the trick to soak the ground that far down.  "This is critical at this stage of the game," said Hahn.

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