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CLAYTON RYE

By Staff | Aug 10, 2012

We have started enjoying the first of the potatoes and tomatoes from our garden. It is the only place for many miles in all directions that received adequate water in this drought year because we watered it frequently.

The tomato plants are tall and bushy, even collapsing the cages that are supposed to give them support. My wife, who appreciates a fresh tomato as one of life’s treats, said this is her favorite time of year.

Bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches are served several times a week and no one complains because we will enjoy them as long as we can.

Anything that uses a fresh tomato or potato is part of a delicious meal. A recent meal had fresh tomatoes, potatoes and sweet corn that had been grown and bought locally. It was an all vegetable meal and it was wonderful.

We knew the garden needed watering this summer and it was watered at least twice a week. We can see what adequate watering did for our little garden patch.

It is tough to look at the crops in the field that have been trying to grow and set seeds with almost no water. Even the grass in the ditch has gone dormant.

We have watered our newly seeded lawn to get the grass established. We have run two sprinklers almost everyday, moving the sprinklers every two to three hours, and the grass seems to be responding.

Even with all the water on the grass, I have only mowed it once. I believe the second time is coming up in the next week or so.

I am no fan of lawn mowing as I see a lawn as just a necessity to keep the weeds from taking over. It seems out of character for me to encourage grass to grow.

But this is a year when normal does not apply.

Even the trees seem to have moved faster into fall than usual. Large maple and oak trees are losing their leaves, looking more like September than August.

My wife and I have looked at our corn up close, pulling back husks to see what those ears of corn really look like to get an idea of the coming harvest. It is not good.

Corn on good heavy soil is coming along with reasonably good ears but you only have to walk a few feet to where there are ears that show signs of poor pollination and short ears because of no rain.

If I have two-thirds of a normal corn crop, I will be surprised and I believe it could be closer to half. Soybeans are struggling and the weather forecast is not encouraging.

So we look at our mostly green lawn easily seeing the places that have received adequate watering and places that did not.

When we dig up a shovelful of potatoes, we are amazed at the size and numbers of potatoes from one just one plant.

Water makes all the difference. That should not come as a surprise but after all the years when we have had adequate or sometimes too much rainfall, this year teaches us the importance of rainfall.

Our education is going to continue all fall, especially once the combines and yield monitors show us what is really out there in our fields.

I will compare my crop yields with my potato and tomato yields and hope another year like this one does not happen for a long, long time.

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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