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Rain delays field planting

BY LAUREN P. DUNCAN lduncan@paducahsun.com

Heavy rain that fell the first four days of June have dropped more rain on western Kentucky than the region received the entire month of May and caused a mixed outlook for area farmers.

According to preliminary National Weather Service reports, the Paducah area received 2.89 inches of rain in May, with about 1.41 inches of that coming on May 14. Preliminary data show it has rained at least 3.49 inches in Paducah this week. 

University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension horticulturists said Wednesday night's downpour will delay some soybean and late corn planting in a few area counties, but they are optimistic the planting season will soon be on track.

Trent Murdock, Graves County extension agent, said May 20 was the general deadline for corn planting. Because of the wet spring and cold weather, he said, much of the planting was late.

"It's not been a good start to the year," he said.

While Murdock said he doubts the water will kill the crops at this point, there is little farmers can do.

"You've just got to wait it out, see what happens and hope for the best," he said. "That's the one thing about farming: you can't do anything about the weather."

Rainfall has also held up wheat combining, which farmers hope to have finished before putting soybeans in the ground. For the most part, he said, soybeans in Graves County have been planted. He knows one farmer, however, who was hoping to finish harvesting wheat this week but won't be able to because of the rain.

Despite the recent inundation, Murdock isn't hoping the rain stops completely.

"At least a break in the rain," he said. "We never want to hope for no rain. Once it stops raining, it never wants to start back."

Murdock said McCracken County farmers are likely experiencing similar issues, where cornfields at higher elevations are benefiting from the wet spring, while low-lying areas are hurting for now.

In Livingston County, extension agent Adam Barnes said a lot of farmers are trying to get soybeans planted now. Wednesday night's rain set back soybean planting in the river bottoms and wetter fields a few days.

"I don't think any drastic weather has affected our planting," he said. "It slowed us a little bit."

Barnes said almost all of his area's corn is planted, and Livingston County farmers are about halfway complete with soybean planting, which he said is on track for a cold spring year. The region is seeing little growth in hay, however, which Barnes said is due to the cold and wet spring. 

Tom Miller of the Ballard County extension office said fields there had not received much rain until Wednesday night and planting delays are not expected.

Contact Lauren Duncan, Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8692 or follow @laurenpduncan on Twitter.

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