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Drought-ravaged milo turns to feed


ZURICH -- Claude Desair's bright blue New Holland tractor zoomed through the stubble of what once was a field of grain sorghum, slowing to a crawl as he approached the bales scattered about the field.

He approached them cautiously, fearful they might "pop," the result of a dry, short crop that isn't holding together as a bale should.

But he wasn't about to lose the feed for his cattle.

It wasn't Desair's field of milo.

"I cut it and baled it," he said just before climbing up into the cab of the tractor. "It wasn't nothing. There wasn't anything to it."

He cut and baled the crop on shares, and then bought out what was the owner's share, snatching up a precious feed source for the cattle he maintains several miles to the west of the field.

Desair didn't want to say how much he paid for the owner's share of the feed.

Even then, he figures it made approximately only two bales an acre, well below what it should be.

He cut 145 acres, yielding only 300 bales.

"Nothing very good this year," he said of crops and feed farmers tried -- and often failed -- to grow this summer, the result of blistering heat and sharply lower than normal rainfall.

"Down where I'm at, we didn't get any rain," Desair said. "I think it's going to get worse."

He said that simply because it hasn't rained, especially in the past month.

"The grass is gone," he said of pastures eaten down this summer by cattle. "If we don't get rain, we'll be moving them."