Rob Asbell farms 5,000 acres of corn and soybeans with his dad and uncle in Peoria County in central Illinois. The last week brought more than 6 inches of rain, saturating the fields and putting him woefully behind.
“Everybody’s behind,” the 42-year-old said. “We’re getting to the point now where it’s time to go, tired of sitting around.”
The dry spell hasn’t snapped everywhere, though. It remains solidly in place in parts of California, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas, according to the drought monitor. It intensified across western Texas, southeastern New Mexico and the Oklahoma panhandle.
It likely won’t keep farmers out of the fields, though. Agriculture giant Monsanto tested a drought-resistant variety of corn last year, and DuPont Pioneer and Syngenta are also marketing similar varieties.
Southwest Kansas farmer Clay Scott said he was one of 250 to test Monsanto’s during last year’s drought and said it yielded more bushels per gallon of water than his fully irrigated corn. He plans to plant about 10 percent of the drought-resistant corn this year, noting that things again are looking extremely dry.
“The countryside’s hurting every time the wind blows,” he said. “It’s really starting to be an issue with blowing dirt,” he said.
• Associated Press writers M.L. Johnson in Milwaukee and Jim Suhr in St. Louis contributed to this article.