Drought conditions have struck central Minnesota for the second year in a row, leaving distraught farmers in the weather's wake.
Decreased hay and crop production because of severe heat and dryness have bombarded area farmers with increased costs with purchased hay and feed additives.
"The input costs are up this year - the fertilizer, the fuel - and you turn around and see the price of commodities are up there, but we have nothing, nothing to show for it," said Art Stumpf, who runs a farm with his wife, Jane, in Morrison County, southeast of Lastrup.
Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls
"It's a complete disaster on the corn and a minor disaster on alfalfa. It's too late for rain as far as the corn crop. Rain right now could bring alfalfa out of dormancy, so alfalfa still has another chance for another cutting, but corn is done."
Stumpf has been farming since 1976, and his first season was the only one he can recall that was worse than 2007.
Ronald Jensen's hay acreage has been stricken by drought at his farm in Long Lake Township.
"It has decreased my hay production. Some fields it's down to a quarter of what it was last year and some fields it's down to a third from last year," said Jensen.
"My pastures are drying up and I'll have to move (the animals) to a pasture that I normally save for September a month early. We've been dry for about three years now.
Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls
"We get enough moisture to get the crops started in the spring and then it's like they shut the faucet off and we don't get any moisture to keep it going and get the pastures growing."
Rich Leino, who runs a farm southwest of Deerwood, expects a hay crop around 30 percent less than a couple years ago.
"We were kind of understocked in cattle so our grass grew up well. Because of the tall grass there is some green stuff at the bottom that isn't getting burnt so we're OK there, but a lot of people are having to feed hay already," said Leino.
"We're still able to let them graze. It goes back to basically we're not running too many cattle on the land we have. A lot of places are running more animals and are running out of feed."
Stumpf's pasture was gone by mid-June, so costs skyrocketed from buying the necessary feed and hay.
"I've already bought bales of hay from the Crookston area. There is no pasture left. The pasture was only a month long and it was gone," the Morrison County farmer said.
Rosanne Caughey, who has a farm south of Brainerd, said her corn stalks are beginning to brown, but it's too early to tell how the crop is going to turn out.
"We got an inch of rain a week ago and it would really help and if we got an inch in the next couple days.
"A farmer can never predict the future. When you have a drought you try to have enough reserves so you can buy feed or alfalfa. We try to have a positive outlook and be thankful every day because tomorrow a storm might come through and wipe everything out.
"In this type of weather you just have to manage your cattle differently and hope for the best."
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