Rain fell at crucial time for crops

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Saturday, July 23, 2011
— Imagine how you’d feel if you were stuck in the beating sun all day and couldn’t run into the shade.

Your leaves probably would curl up, too.

La Prairie Township farmer Bob Arndt was joking a little bit when he talked Friday afternoon about the stress this week’s heat wave put on local crops. He got serious when he said the rain that fell Thursday night and Friday morning on Rock County likely saved more than a few fields from what would have been disaster.

By noon Friday, 1 1/2 inches of rain had fallen at the Janesville Wastewater Treatment Facility between Beloit and Janesville. It wasn’t a lot, but it was more than welcome.

“It was the difference between something and nothing,” Arndt said.

Producers near Clinton reported 4 inches of rain, Arndt said.

The timing of the shower couldn’t have been better, said Steve Quade, who works in the seed division at The DeLong Co. in Clinton.

Corn in southern Wisconsin enters the pollination stage this time of year, Quade said. Typically, pollination takes place between the Fourth of July and the Rock County 4-H Fair, he said.

Pollination has been delayed this year because of the cool spring.

The plant’s first step is putting out tassels, he said.

“When it’s shooting its tassels, like it is now, it’s one of the most critical times in the plant’s life,” Quade said.

Plants are tender and brittle during pollination, Quade said. He was glad the rain was a slow, gentle soaker.

Producers had a scare July 11 when a sudden summer storm knocked many corn plants sideways in the fields. Despite the bad timing of the storm, many of the plants recovered with little damage, Quade said.

Corn isn’t the only plant that is growing through a crucial time in Rock County. Soybeans are flowering, and every flower is a potential pod, Quade said.

“When you get this extreme heat, those flowers tend to abort,” he said.

The rain will help the whole plant and improve yield in the long run, Quade said. It should bring plants some relief from the heat.

“This is exactly what we needed,” Quade said. “Some of the farmers have called this a million dollar rain.”

Last updated: 5:50 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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