Soybean crop hurt by floods

Published 1:37 am Monday, November 30, 2009

NATCHEZ — The late fall is a time when many farmers begin preparatory work on their fields for next year’s crop, but Sunday evening Mike Guedon was on a combine, harvesting soybeans that until recently were underwater.

Darkness was falling, but Guedon said he planned to keep at the harvesting for a while longer because rain was forecast for the evening.

“We have put all of our money into this crop, and it is a matter of getting what we can of it,” he said.

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Guedon is one of a handful of farmers who grow in Adams County’s low-lying areas, which were twice hit with high water this year when the Mississippi River rose into them — in the spring it was an official flood, and this fall the river rose to within a half-foot of flood stage.

“We had water in the spring, so we didn’t get planted until later, so we weren’t able to get (the beans) out earlier,” Guedon said. “They were just barely mature when the water came up again.”

Between prolonged rains earlier this fall and then the plants being covered by the high Mississippi River waters that followed the rains, the harvest will have taken a significant hit in both yield and quality.

“We are just cutting the highest part of the plant that just got some water on it, but there will be some of it we can’t get,” Guedon said.

“Some of it just isn’t going to be salvageable.”

The plants have to be dry for the pickers to work properly, but there was another reason to beat the rain Sunday.

“The water isn’t all over the place, but it is wet,” Guedon said. “The ground is wet, and we are putting ruts in it.”

Rain was only going to add to the saturation that lingered following the river’s rise this fall.

“When it gets dry, we are going to have to get down here, because we have ruts that are 8-10 inches deep, and we will have to try to fill them in so we can plant for next year, and who knows when that will be?”

This year’s often adverse — and in the case of the high fall rise on the river, unusual — conditions have made for a tough farming year, but Guedon said he knows the risk of a bad year is one you have to take with farming.

“The good Lord has taken care of us so far, so we are doing all we can do,” he said. “You’ve got to take the bad (years) along with the good ones.”