Let’s grow rice and tales from the trip!
Barton County Extension Agent
I can hear the bullfrogs calling to me! We had over 4″ of rain in the Golden Belt area this past weekend and in some places more than 6″. It appears to me as I look over flooded fields of corn, soybeans and milo as well as lodged wheat, that perhaps we should be growing rice.
Recently, my wife and I moved our youngest daughter to Nashville, Tenn., where she will be going to school this fall after a couple of wonderful years at K-State. My wife and I both wish she were still at K-State, but that’s another story for another day.
Most of you know this has been a year for flooding rains. What we had this past weekend was nothing compared to some other areas or even what we have had in some previous years like 1981, 1993 and 2007. Even this year, we had the devastating floods in and around Nashville, as well as the campground flood in Arkansas that killed about 20 people.
Closer to home we had the railroad bridge weakening in Sumner County near Caldwell and some bridge collapses in Nebraska on the Elkhorn River. I almost forgot to mention all the flooding in Oklahoma City. So, we have had a lot of rain, but not like in the days of Noah!
We did spend some time in downtown Nashville at the old Ryman Auditorium area, but did not go to the Grand Old Opry and Opryland area that was one of the hard hit areas by the flood. The buildings were still closed when we where there and it was quite a distance from where we were staying.
This was only my second time ever in Nashville and the first in 35 years. After being there for a few days, I continue to wonder why anybody would want to live in the big city. Nashville is a great place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there or anyplace with more than 50,000 population.
After doing what seemed like the 24 hours of LeMans road trip driving strictly on interstate highways on the way trying to get there by evening to unload, we took our time on the way back home.
On our return trip home, we took the scenic route and drove two lane roads most of the way back through the boot heel of Missouri and then over through Springfield.
On the way back from Nashville, just to the west we saw evidence of just how bad the flooding was. We saw debris in the trees as high as 5′- 10′ above the road we were driving on. We saw homes with decks torn off and with water 8′-10′ high on them. Some were abandoned. This was primarily along streams and rivers in hilly country.
Being an ag guy, I was surprised to see some wheat being grown in southern Illinois, but even more in Kentucky and Tennessee. This is mostly soft red winter wheat which usually has a lower price than our hard red winter wheat, but typically has a higher bushel yield. It is used more for cookies and cakes or as a feed grain as opposed to bread.
As expected, I did see a lot of corn and soybeans throughout the trip. No surprise there, that’s where the money is right now. I didn’t see much, if any alfalfa or grain sorghum. I did see quite a lot of cool season grass hay being put up as well as cool season pastures.
The crop that fascinated me the most that I had not seen in this stage was rice. We saw rice along the Mississippi River in the Missouri boot heel and across the northeast corner of Arkansas. Then we saw it again in Missouri in the flat lands south of Poplar Bluff.
You never think of Arkansas being a flat. Usually you think of it being hilly. However, in the part we traveled on this trip, we didn’t see one hill in 50 miles. I guess it’s like people thinking that Kansas is flat, but go to a lot of areas in the state and it gets down right steep.
I drive my wife crazy when we travel because the first chance I get I want to stop and look at a field or talk to a farmer. One time when we went to the National Ag Agents meeting in North Dakota in August or September of 1987, we went to the International Peace Garden on the Canadian border. After we got into Canada, I noticed a combine out in a wheat field and how short the wheat was and had to take a look. My wife stayed in the car, suddenly she hollers out that somebody is coming and will probably think I am stealing his combine.
As it turns out he saw my Kansas tag and wanted to know how the wheat crop had been down in the states, knowing we were the breadbasket here in Kansas. He told me what a drought they had gone through and weren’t expecting much. He said, “Eh, you want to come up to Boissevain and meet our extension educator?” Unfortunately, we didn’t have the time.
Now back to Arkansas, the Land of Opportunity. Sure enough, I pulled into a farm yard and the farmer was by his tail water pond. The rice land was bermed up to hold water and he was in the process of flooding it with irrigation water. It was already up about 6″ tall and he said he had planted it about 3 weeks earlier. He told me about fertilizing it and what herbicides had been applied and that he was friends with the county extension agent there. He said they like to keep about 2-3″ of water on it.
Sounds familiar to me, right now we can do that. Let’s grow rice!