Drought raises red flags at Farm Equipment Show

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As Blue Grass, Iowa, farmer Robb Ewoldt starts thinking about this year's growing season, he remembers a record drought that seems to be sticking around.

"I'm more concerned this year planting our 2013 crop than I was in 2012," he said.

That one-two punch of drought and heat reduced his crop by about 10%. But it forced other farmers to literally cut their losses. A Henry County field near Geneseo delivered the worst crop in 25 years.

"Sometimes it hurt during pollination," said Mitch Heisler, Wyffels Hybrids. "Sometimes the plant just couldn't survive any longer and just had to give up."

At the Quad Cities Farm Equipment Show, hundreds of local farmers are checking out the newest creations and latest technology.

The show wraps up at Rock Island's Q-C-C-A Expo Center on Tuesday. It will be open from 9-3. Admission and parking are free.

While vendors expect spending to remain steady, drought-stricken farmers may watch their wallets more closely.

"If you're in an area where it was fairly dry, you're probably going to be a little more conservative," said Fred Nightingale, who farms near Orion, Illinois.

Despite the drought, the 2012 harvest turned out better than expected for many local farmers. But continued dry conditions prompt more concerns about 2013.

"Whatever moisture we're getting now isn't going to run into the ground," Ewoldt said. "It's going to run off."

That lack of replenishing rainfall could set the stage for another challenging season.

"If we have any shortage of rainfall below average this summer, it's just going to make it that much worse a lot faster," Heisler concluded.

As Robb Ewoldt makes the rounds on Monday, it means more caution for farmers.