Purchase photos

Rain refreshes

9/18/2012

By MIKE CORN

By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

LOGAN -- Looks can be deceiving.

"We've had some goofy storms come through," Duane McCue said of rains that swept through a small spot south of Logan, providing beneficial rains and the appearance of good crops and good grass for cattle. "The rain came six weeks too late."

He pointed to a soybean field that's struggling and likely won't make much, if anything, for harvest.

A milo field over the hill, he said, was in six stages of development -- ready to cut, ready to pollinate and some just ready for the heads to emerge.

All that adds up to questionable prospects for a harvest.

But the rains greened up a pasture, and he recently seized the opportunity to spray grass growing along the fence line, hoping to keep cattle from pushing against it.

As grass in the pasture browned up, he said, cattle were reaching through for grass in the ditch.

"They got into the habit because this pasture looked brown," he said.

As much as 5.5 inches of rainfall during the course of a couple showers changed conditions markedly. But they were small storms.

"They're about the size of your hat on radar," McCue said. "When you're under them, there's a lot of rain."

But it's simply too late to help most of the fall crops.

A patch of milo across the road sported a canopy of red heads, suggesting it might make it to harvest.

"It depends on the freeze," he said of when a crop-killing freeze might take place. "It's going to take a freeze this year to cut milo."

That's because the rains -- when they fell -- brought new life, including lush foliage and plenty of not-yet-ripe heads.

In Hays, the average first-frost of the fall is Oct. 14.

What can be harvested, McCue said, won't yield as much as it did last year.

"Where the milo made 100 (bushels) last year, it's going to make half that," he said. "We're lucky here. We've got something."

Having said that, however, McCue admits he's had to feed cattle and let fireweed and foxtail grow in wheat stubble so he could bale it.

Feed for cattle simply didn't emerge prior to the rains, and it's uncertain if it will be ready before frost hits.

"I hope so," he said. "The cows hope so."

He's in relatively good shape as far as feed, however.

He planted extra feed last year, hoping to sell some of it to farmers and ranchers in Texas and Oklahoma.

He didn't get that accomplished and now has the extra feed for his cattle.

"I've got enough right now to feed my cattle," he said.