Rain quenches soybeans; corn not salvageable

Tuesday, August 16, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 10:50 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 14, 2008

This weekend’s storms broke the drought that has gripped Missouri over the summer, dropping about 3 inches of rain from 7 p.m. Friday until 7 a.m. Monday. It was enough to give hope to soybean farmers, but not enough to save the struggling corn crop, agriculture officials said.

The central Missouri region is still about an inch short of average rainfall for the year, said Ted Schroeder of the National Weather Service’s St. Louis office. The MU campus got the most rain, 3.31 inches, Schroeder said. Freedom received the least, 1.48 inches.

“It was joyful,” said William Wiebold, an MU professor who does soybean and corn management research for the state extension service. “But it probably won’t help the corn crop at all. It was just too far along.”

Neal Bredehoeft, chairman of the American Soybean Association, said the rain won’t save the corn on his farm in Lafayette County.

“The corn matures a little quicker than soybeans,” he said. “Soybeans, if they get rain in August, it’ll help them.”

But if the fields get three-fourths of an inch of rain every week for the next three weeks, the harvest might not be a total loss, Wiebold said.

It’s too early for Bredehoeft to determine the soybean yield on his 1,000-acre farm, but it’s likely to be closer to his farm’s average of about 40 bushels per acre, he said.

The storms are expected to move off by today, Schroeder said, with mostly clear skies through Thursday. Friday and Saturday could bring more rain. Temperatures will climb again as the rain moves on, with warmer weather expected in the middle of the week. By Monday, temperatures are expected to fall again.

The weekend storms were blamed for some Columbia power outages, said George Hessenbruch, electric distribution coordinator for Columbia Water and Light. Two main power circuits were hit, leading to outages near Clark Lane on Friday and near Columbia Mall on Saturday. Both were repaired within a few hours. High winds also knocked down trees and electrical poles, ­creating other minor outages.

The trees had been weakened by the drought, boosting business for Timber Tree Service, a Columbia tree removal company. Owner Tim Roller said he had received six calls before 8 a.m. Monday and four more before noon.

“Trees were dry and they were stressed,” Roller said. “The ones that were really stressed and dry were the ones that you saw break the most.”

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