I just returned this week from a trip to New Orleans for our annual Ag Media Summit, which may well be the world's largest gathering of agricultural and livestock journalists and communicators. In short, it's a darn good time, mostly because of the opportunity to catch up with far-flung friends and colleagues.
When I left last Saturday, we'd had 10 straight days with temperatures over 95 degrees, and no more than a couple tenths since the last weekend in June. Our corn had done most of its pollinating before the heat wave hit, but 10 days had taken its toll. Corn was rolling and firing. It wasn't looking good, and in fact, we could almost see yields dropping. It's a sickening feeling to watch your investment dry up.
Then I got on a plane. I flew to New Orleans via Dallas/Fort Worth, and as we approached, the ground was a sea of brown, broken up by the occasional green tree. Folks, it is dry there. My friend, Holly Martin, of the High Plains Journal, is from a ranching farming near Dodge City, Kansas. They've had two inches of rain since last November. They've been feeding hay for a year. Cattle are being sold left and right. What corn was left has been chopped for silage. And the gentleman from San Antonio whom I sat beside on the flight home reports rivers there are down to a trickle. People in that part of the country are actually praying for a hurricane, just for the rain that would be driven north.
So it's bad here, but it's not the end of the world. We got 3/10 of an inch on Sunday morning, which helped. It'll get us by for a few more days. And as my new Texas friends marveled on the flight into Peoria, it sure is green here. Guess that humidity is good for something.
And in other related news, I learned about a new product this week, called WeatherBill. It's weather insurance, and it's designed to protect farmers from the financial impact of adverse weather, which is, as they note, the cause of 90% of crop loss. Basically, WeatherBill pays out automatically based on weather conditions – no claims process, no waiting. It's kind of fascinating, really. We'll carry a full story about it in the magazine soon, but in the meantime, give their page a look. Given the wet spring, dry summer, pounding wind, hail and everything else that's happened this year that falls under the term "extreme weather," it might be worth a second thought. And if you would, let me know what you think.
Friday morning note: I wrote this at 10 p.m. on Thursday. Then we got an inch of rain that night. Maybe I should write about weather more often.