Canton farmer, rancher stays positive in drought

An ag producer says that even in this drought, he maintains a daily “half full” perspective
by Bryan Painter Modified: December 6, 2012 at 10:13 pm •  Published: December 7, 2012

They received enough rain in August and September on most of their farms to get their rye and wheat planted in a timely manner. Their intention is to use all of it for grazing in the fall and winter in order to maintain their cattle operation. So, they plant it early to get the most pasture possible.

The Webbs will generally cut 20 percent of their wheat for hay and harvest the remaining 80 percent for grain.

“We graze off most of our rye but due to the drought we hayed about 25 percent of it this last spring,” Brandon Webb said. “I think we'll continue to do so as long as we stay in this drought cycle. Some of our wheat and quite a bit of the rye is showing great signs of stress due to the lack of moisture. They are both hardy drought-tolerant plants so we will keep hoping for the best.”

The U.S. Drought Monitor report shows 90.56 percent of the state is experiencing an extreme to exceptional drought. That is up from 71.86 percent two weeks ago, and slightly up from 90.50 percent last week.

Webb said after two years of drought, many of their ponds are either dry or nearly dry.

On their farm, they use several sources of water. They have a few places with creeks, several ponds, and many wells in which they use electric pumps.

“If electricity is available, it is our first choice but where it is not available, over the last several years we have replaced worn-out windmills with solar-powered electric water pumps to provide water for our cattle,” he said. “The cost of replacing the wind mills and the costs of solar-powered water systems is comparable.”

Even in these dusty days, Webb takes on the “half-full” perspective.

“During this drought,” he said, “I am finding that the real blessing is that our water wells still have water in them to be drawn.”

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