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PHOTO OF THE DAY: SIGH

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For farmers living across this water-logged region, the uphill battle continues. A year that has seen in excess of 35 inches of rainfall — more than 10 inches above normal — continues to pose problems for an agricultural community that is battling both low commodity prices and less-than-ideal weather conditions. More rain early this week delayed the harvest even more and offers a bleak outlook as we near the middle part of October. “We’re so under-harvested; over half the guys haven’t turned a wheel on the combine yet,” says Stuart Preheim, a farmer and seed dealer east of Freeman who speculates some acres won’t get harvested at all. “Now it’s the second week of October and you realize it’s not early anymore. I’m afraid this is very significant.” Preheim said a lot will have to go right in foreseeable future if farmers are going to see a decent harvest. The community will need several days of drying of just the ground, and then more days of drying for the crops, “and then we’ll need a couple good weeks to get it done.” The best-case scenario is very little moisture over the next four weeks and another four weeks after that without a significant snowfall. And even then, he said “it’s going to take a long time for some fields.” Livestock suffers, too, with lack of gain and milk production. “They just aren’t conditioned for this; they need sunshine,” he says. “It’s depressing to see them suffer.” Making the excessive rainfall worse is that there’s a good crop out there; Preheim said the reports from those who have brought in corn and beans are good, making up for both unplanted acres during a flooded-out spring and low commodity prices. “A guy tries to be optimistic, but it’s hard,” he says. “This is their livelihood.”