July 18, 2014

The power of the weather


 Corn field and center pivot irrigation in south central Nebraska. July, 2010. Photo by Craig Chandler / University CommunicationsIt’s no secret that Nebraska can be home to some crazy weather, and this spring has been no exception. With cool, wintery temperatures lingering, many of us were wondering if it was ever going to warm up. However, spring eventually sprang, but that didn’t mean we were out of the woods by any means.

As we saw earlier this summer, weather in Nebraska can change rapidly and without warning. We went from frost in late May to tornadoes and tennis ball-sized hail in early June. So, it’s no big surprise to see that most folks in the Cornhusker State pay close attention to the weather reports. Farmers are no exception.

As with many folks who live in the city, Mother Nature can be a farmer’s best friend and worst enemy. However, a farmer’s livelihood depends on the weather. This year has been especially challenging and humbling for farmers. Factors like a shifting drought, flooding in areas and a late, cold spring have been a lot to reckon with. So while most might think the farmer just waits until he can get into the field, there is much more behind his story.

Farmers hope for a cooperative April and May. They want the rain to hold off until just after the last field has been planted. Then let the rain come – but not too much, of course. The right amount of rain enables young crops to extend their roots deep into the ground to provide strength for the wind that is sure to come during the tornado season. Farmers want hot and sunny summer days with scattered moisture to limit the need for irrigation with no destructive tornadoes or hail.

Harvest on October, 4, 2010, east of Lincoln in Lancaster and Saunders counties. Photo by Craig Chandler / University CommunicationsStarting in September, farmers want dry weather to help reduce the moisture content of their crops. Drying grain naturally means farmers won’t have to run dryers in the grain bins before they sell their crops. During the winter months, it’s best to have a steady amount of snow – something we clearly lacked this winter – so the ground can retain moisture for a solid planting season next spring.

Nebraska has seen some severe weather this spring that not only brought damage to many people’s homes, growing crops, and irrigation equipment. Those farm families affected are certainly in our thoughts and prayers, and this is a reminder to all of us of the power of the weather and how it can change our lives in an instant.

Despite the frequent challenges presented by Mother Nature, Nebraska farmers and ranchers continue to produce food for a growing population. We want to thank them for their persistence in the face of adversity, and their dedication to preserving the land for future generations.

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