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Warmer, rainier seasons predicted for the Midwest according to climate assessment

With more warmer and rainy conditions forecasted, farmers may have to change practices

Posted: Dec 26, 2018 9:36 PM
Updated: Dec 26, 2018 10:00 PM

MASON CITY, Iowa - Farming is a way of life for much of the Midwest, including North Iowa and Southern Minnesota.

But a recent climate assessment, the federal government's Fourth National Climate Assessment, in which the U.S. Department of Agriculture was a contributing member of, says more warm and rainy conditions are forecasted for this part of the country, and it could affect how and what farmers plant.

Michael Hejlik is a 30-year farmer near Britt, and has seen his ups and downs, particularly in 1991 and 1993.

"In 1991, I was planting a little late, then it got dinged by the frost, and that made it tough. Then in 1993, we got rain all year long. We had a lot of cloudy days that I could remember."

With the next planting season on the horizon, he's taking what he's learned in the past to prepare for the future.

"You just gotta roll with the weather every year. We look around planting around April 15th-20th on corn, and we hope to be done around May 5th. If you can't hit that window, your yields are going to be hurt. We know delayed planting hurts yields on corn."

Trae Hestness is the regional manager of the Iowa Farm Bureau, but is also a farmer himself, growing corn, soybeans and hay near Nora Springs, as well as a rented cow/calf operation. Like Hejlik, he had to adjust when he was able to get into the field due to the extended winter weather and heavy rainfall. Depending on conditions, he says farmers may have to change their practices.

"If the land is very highly erodible, going more to strip-till or no-till practices and installing tile and getting that water to safely get away from the field. Also working on different practices for application for fertilizer, application for herbicides and pesticides."

Hestness adds that some farmers are beginning to plant cover crops, and even branch out into diversification by having cattle and pig operations, to help with possible changes.

"Farming is all a roll of a dice, and you just hope to land on the right die."

It's something Hejlik is prepared for.

"You learn over the 30 years to go with the flow on things. You'll get it done. I know this fall was even more challenging, and I told myself a number of times, 'one day at a time.'"

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