Eye on KELOLAND: Seasons change

Local News

Last year at this time, a lot of farmers in KELOLAND were struggling to get into their fields to do any of their spring planting because of widespread flooding.

This year is a whole different story.

KELOLAND NEWS revisited a farmer who left us all with one unforgettable image of just how bad it was.

Because of snow runoff and continuous heavy rainfall last spring and summer, Jason Kokes of Tabor had to use a kayak to paddle out into the middle of his field along the James River to check his corn.

“We’re hoping we’re not going to have to do any kayaking down there this year,” Jason said.

Judging by this year’s weather, he won’t have to.

“This spring compared to last spring has been a night and day difference,” Jason said.

But early on it wasn’t looking very promising.

In January, the National Weather Service was alerting people that there could be more record flooding again this year, because we went into winter with the ground already saturated and if we got any heavy rainfalls this spring, it was going to be another disaster for farmers.

“We did go into the winter with saturated soils, so we were concerned if we were going to get large amounts of rain or large amounts of snow that it was going to be a repeat from last year again,” Jim Kokes said.

“Last year at this time, a majority of the farmers hadn’t even started planting corn yet,” Jason said.

This year, Kokes has all of his corn planted, except the land down by the James River where he snapped that photo.

He says it’s still a little too wet to get down there, but if the weather keeps cooperating he’s hoping to get half of that planted yet this spring with beans.

But as far as his corn goes, it’s already up and as a result so are this farmer’s spirits.

“They’re not really concerned about the prices, they were glad to get out into the field and do what they do best which is farm,” Jim said.

Something a lot of them couldn’t even do last year due to the flooding.

“Spirits around here among the farmers are actually in pretty good shape, everyone is positive and looking forward to harvest,” Jason said.

Kokes says he feels fortunate this year and is grateful for the weather we’ve been getting. He says if he would have flooded again this year during a pandemic, it would have added insult to injury.

“Actually when a lot of other people are having to change how they do their jobs or work from home, the last three months for farmers have actually been great,” Jason said.

Planting the seed to what they hope will be a good year.

According to our meteorologists, we are sitting three and a third inches of precipitation below normal.

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