Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Rain, More Rain, Then Even More Rain

It's tough to get a photo that shows just how wet, sloppy, and muddy it is, so this is as good as it gets
I planted grain sorghum on April 26, and in the last thirty days or so since then it's rained just over 21 inches.  All the ponds are full and running over the spillways, it's muddy everywhere, and I'm hoping that it dries up enough before wheat harvest that I don't end up tearing up the fields with a bunch of ruts from the combine.  For over a week, I've needed to haul a bull down the road so I can get the cows bred , but it's been so muddy that I didn't want to risk getting stuck while pulling the trailer so It looks like calving season is going to be a little later next year. 

It's said that you should never complain about the rain, but it's getting harder and harder not to complain.  I'm starting to think that I'm more suited to living in a desert than a swamp or rainforest.  At least there isn't much chance of flooding around here since the farm is up on high ground between a couple of major creek drainages.
No-till grain sorghum field after a hard 3-inch rain
With all this rain it is a little satisfying that most of the rainfall seems to be soaking in instead running off on the cropland.  If this field of grain sorghum had been tilled before planting, I'd expect to have a lot of erosion and ponding in this field after 21 inches of rain in a month. 

Thanks to a combination of no-till, lots of crop residue left in the field, and maybe a little more organic matter due to my soil-building efforts, it looks like I didn't have much erosion in that field even though I planted back and forth with the planter (going up and down the sides of the terraces at times) instead of trying to follow the contours of terraces like I've always done in the past. 

There is some water running off the ends of the terraces and down some fencelines, but it looks like there isn't any soil moving and the water isn't particularly muddy.  Even if my no-till and cover cropping efforts weren't improving my soils, the reduction in erosion would be worth the effort (I'm not really fond of gullies in my fields).  I'm hoping that as soon as it starts to warm up a little, the grain sorghum will start to grow like gangbusters and maybe this will be the year that I finally grow some high-yielding grain sorghum.

15 comments:

  1. "It's said that you should never complain about the rain, but it's getting harder and harder not to complain."

    Here too, it's just been crazy. Not like there of course, but it's been raining, and really raining, every day for days. Last week the cows couldn't be moved as nobody could get to them. A propane truck got stuck on the county road after being warned not to go down it. The Powder River, which is normally a small creek, flooded. It's just been nuts.

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    1. We've had a number of days with 2.5 to 3 inch rains when it just pours, and it's been so cloudy and cool that it just stays wet for days after the rains. The creeks and rivers have all came up, and they seem to be staying up longer.

      If I heard it right, I saw one local weather report that claimed that the droughts of the fifties ended with a similar amount of record rainfall which was followed by a number of years of milder weather and more rainfall than normal. I'm starting to wonder what this summer and the next few years are going to be like.

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    2. Well, I'd be okay with that. And goodness knows that this rain is a life saver. I was getting seriously worried due to the low snow pack.

      But for the first time in my life, I actually have been complaining about the rain.

      Actually saw one of the Colorado ski areas is now staying open to June 15, due to all the added snow. Indeed, we had some big blizzards within the past month. Not that blizzards in April are that unusual here. . . but these were big ones.

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    3. I've made it through a few droughts, I'd like to see if I could make it through a few years of better growing conditions. Then, I after I get overconfident and think I know all there is to know, I'd like to see if I could survive the droughts that are sure to follow those easy years.

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    4. I've been through some nasty ones, and I have not enjoyed them at all.

      I like the ponds to be full. Trailing cattle when the ponds are not full is grim.

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    5. Since I started farming, it seems like the majority of the time I've been dealing with drought.

      The droughts of 2011 and 2012 were pretty rough, and after surviving them through mainly luck and stubbornness I'm always thinking about what I need to do to survive the next drought because my luck is eventually going to run out.

      I'm already thinking about what I need to do to take advantage of all this moisture by baling as much hay as I can this summer. It's a helpless feeling to only have about half as much hay as you need when you think a drought is coming.

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    6. I see its flooding in Lawton, a place I've spent some time at.

      And its raining here again this morning.

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    7. It's been raining so much that my memory is starting to blur, but if I'm remembering it right, that area between Lawton and Wichita Falls down to Lake Texoma and Dallas has gotten some of those bigger rains over and over again for the last month where it pours down 3-4 inches at a time.

      I think the news said they either closed or were thinking about closing I-35 on the OK/TX border due to flooding. It's been awhile since I've been down that way, but it seems like it would take a lot of water to reach that point.

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  2. It's been playing havoc with my laundry, but the way.

    I (illegally) hang my jeans and trousers out to dry on a clothes line (yes they're prohibited up in this subdivision, but I ignore that, ba hah hah hah). But every time I've gone to do that recently, it's rained. Hung up my pants last evening and a big old thunderstorm rolled in. Just left them there, and we finally had a sunny day today.

    They do smell nice, I'd note, after being rained on.

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    1. It would never occur to me that I wouldn't be allowed to hang my jeans out to dry in my own backyard.

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    2. Oh, it's commonly forbidden all over.

      Apparently some people find clothes lines offensive.

      I know one subdivision that prohibits families with children. I've long hoped somebody would file suit over that, but the subdivision gears towards geezers who apparently like things to be morgue like quiet. I'd hate to live in a subdivision that prohibited minors. Would just seem like too sterile, or too much like the cemetery. What a joyless spot.

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  3. 21 inches of rain in a month sounds apocalyptic and then you add in the fact that we are referring to Oklahoma and I would think pigs must be flying around in your neighborhood!

    Having worked on my parents farm though many droughts and many extremely wet years, I must say my preference is a drought. At least when there is a drought, you can get other things done while the crops are withering away in the fields. During wet years, I find that the only thing I get done is to slog through the mud to the shop only to sit on an overturned five gallon bucket and watch the rain fall. It gets old after a couple months!

    We've been wet up here, enough to keep us out of the fields and ruin what soybeans got planted. Eventually we will have to replant what went in and finish the rest but it doesn't look like it will be happening this week. But the corn got in before the rains and is looking good and our rains have been mostly less than an inch variety.

    Better start searching for rice tires for the combine wheat harvest.

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    1. Another inch fell last night and more rain is forecast through the weekend, so it's possible we could get close to 23-24 inches in a little over a month. I think there have been years when we didn't get that much yearly rainfall.

      It was still a little dry when all this rain started which meant that a lot of it soaked in at first and it took a while for the ground to get saturated. If we'd gotten more moisture over the winter, there would have been more flooding.

      The thing about droughts is that it can take years or decades to recover from a drought and it usually only takes weeks or months to recover from too much rain. It would be nice to just have a few years when the weather was average and consistent year to year, but that's never going to happen.

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  4. Last year was about the first year we got decent consistent weather and the only time in my life that my father has ever said his crops were perfect. All my prior experiences and memories of farming however, have always had something that could have been better with the weather.

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    1. Perfect growing condition weather is different for wheat, grain sorghum, corn, soybeans, cattle, hay, and the garden which always makes it interesting.

      Making a pile of money from the cattle after having a dismal wheat harvest can make me a little more tolerable to be around, but surprisingly, growing a bunch of tomatoes in the garden doesn't seem to have the same effect.

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