Farmers in Northeast Missouri are reaping the benefits of timely rainfall over the past week as they bale hay and harvest other crops that rapidly changed from brown to green.

Farmers in Northeast Missouri are reaping the benefits of timely rainfall over the past week as they bale hay and harvest other crops that rapidly changed from brown to green.

Marion County Farm Bureau President Joe Kendrick said harvest time is upon farmers. He said he was preparing to rake hay mowed earlier in the week.

Kenny Lovelace, fellow farmer and member of the Marion County Soil and Water Conservation Board, said farmers in the area received a good amount of rain, allowing the ground to soak up the moisture and replenish subsoil levels with relatively low levels of rain.

Early corn crops did not benefit from the rain, and Missouri's harvest will be lower than national predictions, but “it's not going to be a total failure like it was in 2012,” Kendrick said. But soybeans are receiving precipitation at a critical time for the growth stage, and Kendrick said he's hearing optimistic comments from area farmers so far.

“We're going to have a really good soybean crop — maybe in some instance the best they ever raised — basically because of how things turned out,” Kendrick said, noting that other portions of the state didn't see the same situation. “But there's going to be some areas that didn't raise anything either.”

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor for Missouri, conditions are improving as of Tuesday, Sept. 11. In the previous week, 78.01 percent of the state was classified as “abnormally dry,” compared to 68.93 percent for the most recent figures. Extreme drought conditions in the northwestern, western and central portions of the Show-Me State have declined from 6.08 percent to 2.63 percent over the same time period. According to the drought monitor, Marion County is no longer under a drought classification. Before the rain, the county was ranked as “moderately dry.”

Lovelace said he noticed greener grass, corn ready for harvest, bales of hay and other signs of a turnaround on Friday, as he traveled to Macon and back toward Palmyra. “Everywhere, things look a lot better,” he said. “We're actually seeing more corn shelled in this area than in Macon and Moberly. There are some beans that are really getting close, but hay is cut everywhere.”

Lovelace said he cut hay Thursday and planned for more Friday and Saturday and that it was a pleasant surprise to see a crop that had been brown before the rain become green and ready to bale.

He said the level of cooperation between different groups and individuals helped make the difference in pulling through the drought, pointing out efforts like pipelines for Hamilton and Cameron to bring in drinking water. He said organizations like the Missouri Department of Agriculture, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Governor Mike Parson's office, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Missouri Department of Conservation better worked together than he witnessed in the past. “Everybody went above and beyond for this drought,” he said. “It's fun to see something turn out this good and see people work together so well.”

Kendrick said he and his neighbors are already working long hours in the field. He hopes motorists will be mindful of farm machinery on Missouri roadways so everyone remains safe. He said some new combines are almost as wide as an entire state route, and many farmers opt to travel at night when there is less traffic.

“Hopefully, we can have decent weather and get it done in a decent time frame,” he said.

trevor.mcdonald@courierpost.com