Thursday, June 19, 2003

Soaked farmers hope for dry-out, and soon

By Jeremy W. Steele
The Cincinnati Enquirer

MILFORD TWP. - The water is gone from Dan Sunberg's corn and soybean fields.

But Seven Mile Creek clearly left its mark.

Acres of crops that had been under several feet of water Sunday are left coated with dried mud. In a few places, cornstalks and other debris that floated in with the weekend's flood have left patches of crops smothered.

"They were damaged and I will have a yield loss because of it," Sunberg said of the 160 acres around his Hamilton-Eaton Road home, which sits within sight of Seven Mile Creek. "But it's early enough in the season that I think they'll grow out of it."

It's a scene played out across northern Butler County, where as much as 8 inches of rain in an hour caused the Four Mile and Seven Mile creeks to overflow their banks. There's no official count on how many acres were damaged, but farmers tell of some fields nearly flooded out.

Excess rain and cool weather throughout May and into June already have put farmers through a difficult spring. Many farmers, such as Sunberg, didn't have enough dry days to finish planting this year's crop. Of the 850 acres he farms with his father, he estimates 300 haven't yet been planted.

"You can't plant when it rains every other day," Sunberg said.

Now, thanks to the weekend's downpour, fields along county waterways are drenched, and even land uphill is too wet to drive a tractor on. All this comes as hay is overdue to be cut, the deadline to plant soybeans looms and farmers need to fertilize or spray crops.

"Really, just about all aspects of the farm sector have been affected," said Mike Jacquemin, branch manager for Harvest Land Co-op's Butler Ag Centers. "It's not a pretty picture. Those that have crop insurance will get some help."


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