Farmers in Hopkins County continue to combat water stress during the summer growing season for the second year, according to UK extension office agriculture officials. But the county is expected to pull a crop yield consistent of last year that had similar conditions.
"You know, farmers have a saying: 'A dry year will scare you, but a wet year will starve you,' " said Curtis Dame, Hopkins County Extension agent for Agriculture and Natural Resources. "The amount of rain matters when you talk about crop yield during a wet season, but it's more important when that rain falls."
According to Dame, January to July 2018 had 36.05 inches of rain primarily falling in the May and June months. So far this year, the county has seen 38.94 inches of rainfall with the recent months shouldering most of the wet weather conditions.
Dame said because the rain has fallen during
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the preliminary weeks of planting, crops specifically in low-land areas are more susceptible to yield damage since the roots aren't developed. As these roots aren't developed, farmers should be wary of sidewall compaction and nitrogen deficiency during the beginning of planting season, according to Dame.
Corn and soybeans are the primary crops in Hopkins County, he said, and those crops rely on a balance of water intake that farmers have been struggling to maintain.
According to the state summary report of last week conducted by the extension office, 71% of corn was rated either in good or excellent condition with the conditions of the remaining 29% rated fair, less than fair or poor. Earlier this year in June, Dame said, the crop yield of corn was also delayed because the crop wasn't receiving enough sunlight in addition to the wet conditions.
"The main problem is that you never know what next year will bring. It's difficult to take the things that you've learned one season and apply it to the next," he said. "But farmers are fantastic managers, and simple ways of management can really help."
To combat the issues of a wet season, farmers have employed simple techniques such as crop rotation to maintain an appropriate quality of soil.
Dame also encouraged farmers to keep their crops in careful observation and use the diagnostic resources such as tissue sampling provided by the county extension office in order to make informed decisions.
According to Dame, difficult farming conditions have been an issue all across the country with 12 million to 18 million corn acres remaining unplanted in America, and Kentucky has favored better than surrounding states such as Ohio and Indiana.
Despite less than favorable farming conditions in recent years, Dame said the business has been on the rise in the county with an increase of seven full-time and 108 part-time farmers since 2012.
The average age of the industry is also on the decline, he said, as younger generations are entering more into the field.
Farming yielded $39 million in revenue for Hopkins County in 2017, according to Dame, which compares favorably with surrounding counties.
While Dame said it's too early to predict the fall harvest of crops, he remains optimistic about this year's yield.