June 28, 2011
Like many southern Illinois farms, the Scates' family had numerous acres under water this spring.
Tim Scates remembers planting in April, only to watch as about four feet of water covered over 2,000 acres of their operation. They had dealt with flooding close to this magnitude in 1997 and 2005.
After the water receded, they were able to get the flooded acres planted, albeit that was around June 3. Planting this late, Scates expects harvest will be moved back to late September, if the weather is cooperative.
Perhaps even more frustrating than the delayed planting has been repairing their center pivot irrigation systems. Scates says they removed each motor that was submerged for an overhaul. If that wasn't enough of a hassle, powerful winds in May damaged about 60 center pivots.
"We've had a good amount of rain lately," Scates explains. "But, we could be in trouble if it starts to dry out. We've really got to get these irrigation systems up and running."
Along with the center pivots, the Scates' farm office, grain-bin setup and machine shed were under water. Scates' uncle, who lives next door to the Carmi farm shop, held out as long as he could. When he started having to use a boat to get around, Scates says he decided to evacuate.
He wasn't alone. A significant portion of Carmi was under water. Scates says folks had to drive at least 10 miles around it to avoid the water.
Despite the lake-like conditions, work continued for many of the White County farmers.
"Everyone pitched in and helped each other out," Scates remembers. "The neighbor set up a generator so my uncle could run his freezer while we waited for the water to go down."
At one point, the Scates crew set about tracking down farm equipment before it floated too far away. At $500 to $700 apiece, Scates says the center pivot spare tires were high priority. When someone would come upon one, they would tie it to the nearest tree and make a note of where it was. Once the water went down, Scates says they were able to track down nearly all of them.
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