NEW HAVEN, Mo. – We’ve seen our pattern shift from dry to multiple beneficial rains over the past few weeks. Which is helpful to local farmers after a succession of dry years.

“It has been crazy. We just made a comment the other day how green it is compared to what it was last year at this time. We were dry, dry last year at this time. It’s been a major improvement,” said Ryhan Pehle, a cattle farmer in New Haven, Missouri.

Pehle said his fields of grass are responding to the rains and are about two weeks ahead of schedule.

“This last year was bad, but before we had bad, I mean not as bad, but we’ve been in a couple years of drought, and it’s kind of a cumulative effect, because then you don’t have the extra hay from one year to the next or extra grass. You kind of keep feeding earlier, so it kind of keeps accumulating,” he said.

The recent drought brought him challenges in feeding his cattle, as they each can eat up to 35 pounds of hay a day, or up to 3% of their body weight.

“So, I’d say our hay was about half, and also, when you say hay was about half, that means all of my grazing is half. So, it cuts all my grazing days down to nothing. So, like last year, I ended up having to start feeding hay in December when I normally feed in February,” Pehle said. “So, I scraped and scratched and got neighbors’ extra hay just to get through for the year.”

But what was even more concerning was the lack of runoff water.

“I ran out of water. We depend on springs here a lot, and the water has just virtually dried up. And it was not so much over the summertime but during the winter,” Pehle said. “I had to bring them up to the house to get them water instead of keeping them back here in this valley, because there’s normally good flowing water all the time. There just was none.”

Pehle is relieved for the inches of rain he’s gotten this spring.

“I mean, our ponds are full again, and it looks like the springs down here are running really good again. I think we’re kind of caught up here,” he said.

Actress Jennifer Coolidge spends week in St. Louis, shops and dines at local businesses

Pehle said they got their corn in, and it couldn’t look better. But this time of year, it can be a fine balance between too wet and too dry. Mac Marshall, the Vice President of Market Intelligence for the United Soybean Board, said many farmers have gotten a good jump on planting, but recent rains have slowed the pace some.

“You look at Missouri, and our planting progress for the state for both corn and soybeans is ahead of the five-year average; though, you know, with the rain accumulation these last couple weeks, you’ve seen that not quite flat line, but it’s definitely taken a kink in the progression,” Marshall said.

The springs of 2015 and 2019 were on the opposite end of the spectrum, with too much rain.

“What I recall from both of those years was, you know, you weren’t able to get corn in the ground, so there’s a lot more push towards beans, but particularly in 2019, when things were incredibly wet, a lot of bean and corn acreage just didn’t get planted,” Marshall said. “That means you’re taking a lot of production off the table. So obviously, we hope nothing like that is going to unfold.”

Marshall says they see some yield upside when you have earlier planting of soybeans, but there’s still time for those who have had delays due to rain.

“That’s been the crop that you’ve been able to have a little bit more flux on the back end and, you know, have planting into June and still be in accordance with the crop insurance states,” Marshall said.

He’s hopeful for a good season.

“It’s a grand responsibility that our nation’s roughly half a million soybean farmers take upon themselves every year to grow that crop that will help nourish the planet with food, feed, and fuel,” he said. “So, the hard work that they’re getting now, you know, going through planting, getting crops in the ground, it’s all for that payoff at the end of the season. So, we’re very excited to see how that unfolds. And, you know, farmers are the hardest-working people we have in this country.”