Flood threat, summer heat hit growers in pocketbook

Farmland along East Hartsburg Bottom Road in the Hartsburg river bottoms looks like a lake because of seep water.

Farmland along East Hartsburg Bottom Road in the Hartsburg river bottoms looks like a lake because of seep water. Photo by Julie Smith.

With the current river level holding steady at about 25 feet, now just 2 feet above flood stage, the idea of an imminent flood threat is out of the minds of many Mid-Missourians.

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A blue heron watches for food as it stands in a water-covered gravel road in Hartsburg. Even though the area hasn’t received measurable precipitation for several weeks, seep water is submerging crop land in several areas. Record heat has affected crops as well.

However, for river-bottom farmers, it’s a constant, day-to-day pressure.

Glen Beckmeyer, who farms in Hartsburg, has lost 200 to 300 acres of this year’s crop to floods, which is about 25 percent of his operation. Combined with the recent drought, Beckmeyer has lost about half of his crop because of uncontrollable climate conditions.

The water damage comes primarily from “seep water” that occurs when the ground becomes so saturated water collects above ground. There is little Beckmeyer can do at this point, he said.

“If I had 1,000 people standing around with sandbags, I wouldn’t know where to put one,” Beckmeyer said.

He said standing water levels have reached 3 feet in some lower areas of the field.

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