High water hurts crops

By BOB JOHNSON
Register City Editor

The Neosho River crested here at 19.56 feet early this morning, 4.56 feet above flood stage.
The river was pushed from its banks by heavy rain that began Tuesday afternoon and continued overnight and through much of Wednesday morning. Official total during the period was 4.11 inches.
Overnight the west park area near the Iola dam was closed to traffic and at daybreak water covered a portion of it. Low-lying areas near the river throughout Allen County were flooded, as was bottomland along creeks. Where county roads intersect streams of any consequence, rock was washed away. County crews began repairs before rain stopped.
Backwater crept into the south edge of Iola, mainly at the south ends of Walnut and Chestnut streets, but did not threaten any of the homes still standing in that part of town. Most that were in the area have been razed after being flooded in 2007.
Some crop damage was reported from the flooding, but it is too early to make a comprehensive assessment of damage. Corn and soybeans, the two major cash crops in Allen County, are nearing maturity — a smidgen of corn has been harvested. How critical the overflow of crops is will depend on the length of immersion and their stage of development.
Dale Daniels, who has farmed river bottom ground south of Humboldt for more than 40 years, said later-planted soybeans were more at risk than those nearing harvest.
“If the pods were pretty well filled, they should be OK,” he said. “Those that still are developing are more at risk.”
Floodwater in corn is a concern if the water goes above ears, Daniels said. Immersion can cause ears to mold and kernels to sprout.
“How long the water is up and how high it gets in a field” are critical elements, he said.
“But, it’s kind of like a frost, sometimes you get one and it kills a lot and other times it doesn’t hurt much,” Daniels noted. “We’ll just have to wait until the water goes down and see what happens.”
A distressing note of potential flood damage, he said, is that this year’s soybeans are some of the finest area farmers have raised in many years. “In some fields, you can stand, extend your arms out and the tops of the soybeans hit them.”
Dave Bedenbender farms in the Neosho Falls area and had about 200 acres of soybeans under water.
He theorized that those in fields where the water had a current were more likely to regain their vitality when water receded than ones where backwater stood still.

TO PUT this week’s flooding in perspective, the crest of 19.56 feet was nearly a foot and a half below what the National Weather Service considers moderate flood stage for Iola, at 21 feet. Major flood stage is 27 feet.
The summer 2007 flood crested at 26.90 feet in Iola. The hallmark flood of modern times in 1951 crested at 33.26 feet.
The next chance for rain locally, a slight one, is Friday night, according to today’s forecast. Rainfall chances for the weekend are figured at 30 percent.