By Steve White firstname.lastname@example.org
There's no doubt in Pete Dibbern's mind this is the worst drought in a half-century. Irrigation may be the salvation of the state's farmers, but only half of his land is irrigated.
There's little left of what hasn't been watered.
"I think we're 90% gone on the dryland," he said.
On the day Dibbern called the crop adjuster to report a loss on the non-irrigated acres, he's also cashing in. He farms with his brother and they held some grain back from last fall, and now are selling at the right time, with record high corn prices, right around eight dollars a bushel.
Dibbern said, "Right now, yeah, supply is a little bit short as far as forecasting so that reflects our price we're receiving a little benefit from that."
Farmers will have to spend money to make money this year, as irrigation systems work overtime.
UNL Extension Agronomist Mark Hinze said, " Crop is actually looking pretty good. I think we're in the garden spot in Nebraska -- Adams and Hall County for example we have a lot of abundant irrigation going on. Farmers are being very careful with how much water they put on. Right now, the pumps are have to run. It's been 90 plus degrees every day. The heat is really zapping the moisture in a hurry.
The USDA says a full third of our crop is poor to very poor. And only five percent of corn is rated excellent.
In addition, the USDA reports dry land corn has been chopped for silage. In Pete Dibbern's neighborhood, dry corn has been cut.
"It's just like a bad tire, it doesn't fix itself," he said.
As farmers take a loss on dry land, they reflect on recent years of profitability, and the unknown of what this harvest will bring.
"We've been fortunate for a lot of years -- had a lot of mild summers," Dibbern said. "Unfortunately this year's pretty tough. We'll just see where it comes. The end'll be soon unfortunately for a lot of people."
Pete's retired from the Air Force. He says he was spoiled by sitting in the cockpit with other people doing all the work for him. Now he's the one doing the dirty work. And dusty and dirty it is.