Rain Comes Just In Time

Rain Comes Just In Time

Rain arrives to save parched crops in southern Wisconsin.

Dave Zimdars of Ripon says he was relieved when 1.75 inches of rain gave his parched crops a much needed drink on July 26 and 27.

The crop-saving rain arrived during the 11th hour for his 240 acres of corn.

"I was worried," he admits.

Wet start
Zimdars says the 2012 growing season got off to a slow start.

"We had 3.5 inches of rain the first week of May which delayed us from planting corn until Mother's

 Day, and then it just dried up. "

Between May 7 and July 25 Zimdars says only 2 inches of rain fell on his farm.

"It was really dry."

He believes the extremely hot and dry weather delayed his corn from tasseling until rains began arriving in late July.

CHECKING DEVELOPMENT: Dave Zimdars of Ripon counts rows on his corn on Aug. 6. Most of the ears he checked had 18 to 20 rows. The corn, planted after Mother's Day, delayed tasseling until July 26 when 1.75 inches of rain fell at his family's western Fond du Lac County dairy farm. Another 1.25 inches fell between Aug. 1 and Aug. 9.

"The corn was in stall mode," he says. "With the growing degree days we had this summer it should have tasseled two weeks before it did."

Zimdars says he is grateful the corn was able to hold off shooting tassels and silks until the rains arrived.

"It would have been a lot worse if it had pollinated in all that heat with no rain."

While the rain saved the corn, he knows his yield will be way down.

"We've had 200 bushel yields here, but not this year," he says. "We'll be lucky to average 100 bushels. We won't know how much it will really yield until the corn is harvested."

Zimdars also doesn't know how much of this corn crop will end up being used for corn and how much he will need for corn silage to feed his family's 240 cows and 180 heifers and calves.

"That all depends on whether or not we keep getting timely rains through the first week of September."

The Zimdars family owns 450 tillable acres. In addition to 240 acres of corn, they also grow 150 acres of alfalfa and 30 acres of wheat.

"This year we also bought 20 acres of standing alfalfa."

Finding feed
Even if rains continue to fall, the 56 year old farmer knows he won't have enough feed to get through winter without buying some feed.

"We bought 140 acres of CRP grass from a neighbor. That will make good heifer feed."

The Zimdars family is also planning to chop the stalklage the canning factory leaves behind in his neighbor's sweet corn field.

"We also planted oats and peas after wheat to chop this fall for additional feed," he says. "We're keeping our fingers crossed that we don't get an early frost. That's the next thing to be concerned about."

Zimdars says they also have their name on a waiting list at the local canning factory for sweet corn and green bean canning waste.

 "We hope we don't have to buy lots of expensive feed. Maybe crop insurance will help us out a bit. We'll see where that ends up. You hate to have to rely on crop insurance but I think it will be a good thing this year. Our goal is to not have to sell any cows."

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