Clinton County harvest reflects 2012 drought

Clinton County farmers are expected to harvest just a fraction of a typical corn crop in coming days. Early results are disappointing due to the 2012 drought. That will drive up cost for consumers and farmers.

There’s an ironic twist during this drought on Thursday. Rain comes too little, too late for Rob Cousins’ corn. The DeWitt farmer is busy chopping down rows to feed his cattle. It’s a chore that reveals drought damage during a difficult growing season.

“There’s a lot of stalks that may not have an ear on them at all,” he said. “There’s some stalks that might have just half an ear.”

That assessment mirrors what’s happening across Iowa. The latest USDA report delivers the bad news, ranking more than half of the Hawkeye state’s corn crop as poor to very poor.

“Not having any moisture and just watching your crops kind of wither away,” he said.

Drought is creating more work for less corn. Some Clinton County fields are harvesting about one-fifth of a typical crop. Some farms will bring in even less.

Those disappointing results are expected to continue in coming days. As Cousins makes the rounds in his field, he’s bringing in nearly two-thirds less silage. Drought will force him to chop even more acres of a subpar crop just to keep up with his cattle feed.

“There are a few spots that have a nice ear on them,” he said. “But that’s very slim.”

While farmers are used to dealing with all kinds of conditions, drought will really take a toll on Clinton County’s harvest.

As Cousins puts it, federal crop insurance will be a lifeline for farmers by allowing them to plant a crop next spring.

“I think it’s one of those deals where everybody will kind of feel better after they get stuff out and look forward to next year,” he concluded.

In this soggy field, it’s a reality check for Rob Cousins.