No rain means farmers can go full speed ahead when it comes to getting the crop in, but it also means conditions are dangerously high for field and machinery fires, something local firefighters have faced almost daily since harvest began.
Since Oct. 1, Thayer County fire departments have answered 14 fire calls; all but two have occurred inside the county borders. Nearly every department has been called out, and on especially windy days, several go out to mutually assist others.
All of the blazes have been in the fields except two including a combine on Road X in Fillmore County that the Bruning department answered and a hay bailer that the Carleton department answered. The 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 10th of October saw one fire each day, whereas, the 4th through the 6th saw multiple fires. Last Thursday, Oct. 6, four fires were tended to in Gilead, Deshler, near Alexandria and Carleton. The wind was particularly strong during the four-day stretch adding to the probability of fires.
Fires start up when conditions are extremely dry and hot machinery is being used in the field. Even static electricity can cause a spark large enough to start a fire. Wind adds fuel to the fire.
On Sunday, the promise of rain had locals breathing a sigh of relief, but the scant amount of moisture, .19 inches in Hebron, did little to relieve the conditions. According to NeRAIN (Nebraska Rainfall Assessment and Information Network), areas west of here received up to five inches of rain as the storms rolled through northern Kansas and southwest Nebraska. By the time they reached the surrounding area, impact was minimal.
Which is why Norder Agri Supply in Hebron is dumping corn on the ground, says manager Larry Seaman. “All of our storage bins are full from the bean harvest,” he said Tuesday morning, “so we’re looking for a place to put the corn.”
Seaman said bean yields were especially good this year, and with the dry conditions, farmers jumped right into the corn harvest without stopping. “We haven’t had a chance to move the beans out to make way for the corn,” he said. “A little rain would help that.”
Seaman said about a fourth of the corn crop is in. “Yields haven’t been as good as anticipated, but they are still fair,” he said adding that although prices are fluctuating right now, and despite the lower than expected yields, overall he thinks area farmers should see a good year.
A fifty-fifty chance for scattered thunderstorms loomed over the area on Tuesday night, with no other notable moisture forecast for the next ten days. Temperatures will remain pleasant in the mid 70s for highs and 40s for lows. The low will dip into the 30s later in the week, but there is no indication of a freeze for the next several days.
Farmers should have no trouble bringing in the crop.