By Allie Bierman
(updated by Journal Editor Jason Schock)
The Richardson County Board of Commissioners Tuesday signed a Declaration of Disaster following the heavy rains of June 3-5. Damage associated with local flooding has been estimated at over $1 million. The County, along with local cities and village, made this declaration in order to request financial assistance from the State of Nebraska’s Governor’s Emergency Fund and begin the process of requesting Federal Disaster Assistance.
Southeast Nebraska continues to dry out after last week’s storms dumped buckets of rain on Richardson County — Stella and Salem reported six inches in a single 24-hour period — and both the roads and farmers’ fields are worse for the ware.
According to Richardson County Emergency Manager Brian Dixon, the heaviest rainfalls reported came from south Richardson County, where Stella and Salem got hit with nearly six inches, and Verdon five, last Thursday alone. Dixon said the area received a total of 6.84 inches of rain last week, forcing the Big Nemaha River near Salem to swell to its highest level since 1993.
Falls City saw some four inches of rain at the end of the week and watched as water spilled over the banks of the Muddy Creek and Nemaha Rivers, turning farm houses east of town into lake front properties. Everyone got soaked.
“With all this rain we have had a hard time getting anything planted at all,” local farmer Mike Bierman said. “You’ll get a few good days for your fields to dry, and then that’ll leave you with about one or maybe two days to plant before it starts to rain again.”
Mike has been farming with his dad, Gary Bierman, since he was a boy. Gary doesn’t remember the weather being this bad for this long since the 1950’s. In 1956 there was a drought followed by hail that totaled everything. The Bierman’s have about one third of beans left to plant and about five percent of corn left.
“All of our fields are wet, but none are under water. All the bean ground is wet, we have all the dry ground planted already. We still need to get our crops planted in Salem, Stella, the Verdon area, and some in Missouri, ” Gary said. “The crops just need dry weather, sunshine and a little breeze. “
Beans can be planted up until July 4 and corn can be planted until about June 15, though the yield per bushel will not be as much. The later the crops get planted, the less the yield will be. If the crops don’t get sprayed, there will be weeds in them and they won’t yield as much.
“The corn needs sprayed but it’s too wet to get into the field to spray,” Carol Bierman added.
“We also need to get our hay mowed, but if you mow it and it rains right away the quality goes down, although the quality is already going down because it’s so late. The fields are just too muddy,” Gary said.
With some crops being planted so late and some not being planted at all it will affect the yields during harvest.
“Harvest won’t be as good in our area but if other areas have a good harvest, the prices for crop will be lower which won’t be good for us,” Gary said.
Dan Goff, who farms near Salem, still has crops that need to be planted, as well.
“We have all of our corn in and about two days of beans planted, so we’re maybe a quarter done with beans. We should be able to plant them; they will just be late by the time we get them in,” Goff said.
“We’ll get everything in sooner or later. It just depends on what the weather will be like this summer, if it dries up or if it keeps raining.”
Goff, who also sells crop insurance, said that the late plant date for corn was May 25 and June 10 is the late plant date for beans.
“Anything planted after that gets a deduction on the crop insurance side of it; you can’t insure it as much. You won’t have as much coverage as if you had it planted before that date. We’re kind of getting to that point where no one in the county has beans in and we’re getting pretty close to that June 10 mark. There’s going to be a lot of beans planted after that I’m afraid,” Goff said.
On the other side of the slow rising Missouri River, the fields and farmers are the same way. Matthew Buckminster, who works for Tally Farms in the Mound City/Maitland area, still has a few days left of planting.
“We have about 10 percent of corn left and 70 percent of beans left to plant. We have nitrogen in the ground so we will finish planting our corn. We still have to plant in Bigelow, Craig, and Guilford,” Buckminster said.
There is an app available to download on your smart phone, called ‘The Climate Cooperation’ which tracks rain totals on each field. It will also tell you if there is hail and, if so, the size of the hail.