Some common consumers are quite concerned about Trick-or-Treat being rescheduled due to the weather. But the forecast that has loomed all week for our trade territory does nothing for the spirit of the farmer who just wants to finish harvest.
Too much rain in the spring means delayed planting. Too little rain in the summer means a choking drought. So what does rain during harvest mean?
Navigating Mud – When it rains during harvest, the obvious problem becomes mud. Combines, semi trucks, tractors and wagons all need to be able to get in and out of fields to harvest and transport the crop. Though they’re each large, powerful machines, they simply aren’t built to operate in the mud, especially when they’re loaded full of grain. Farmers don’t want to get their equipment stuck, and they certainly don’t want to learn what it would take to get them un-stuck!
Increased Propane Usage for Grain Drying – The 2019 crop was planted so late (especially for the northern end of our territory), that we’re facing a barely matured crop, resulting in areas with 30% moisture. Corn dries naturally when it is still alive and growing, but with the quick decline in temperature and frost, it’s growing days are over. That means the moisture must be removed mechanically. Farmers dry grain to prevent any loss of their crop and to ensure they get the best price when marketing it. Most
farmers have access to grain dryers on their farm. By putting the corn through these grain dryers they can dry the grain to the desired moisture level. A large majority of grain dryers are powered by propane, and that’s another input cost for the farmer.
Detriment to Grain Quality – It is difficult to maintain grain quality when you harvest wet grain. Moving the kernels through the combine can easily result in damaged and
cracked grain. Additionally, a farmer would go on to spend the money to mechanically dry it, overall lowering the grain quality. This affects the price they get when selling their grain because damages result in discounts.
Rain during harvest isn’t ideal, but it is another condition that America’s farmers work through when in this lifestyle. Perhaps the silver lining to this literal rain cloud is that this rain will allow the parents and grandparents to see, and enjoy the company of, their favorite ghosts and goblins on this Halloween weekend. Usually, they only stop the combine for five brief minutes to dote over the costumes and perhaps steal a Reese cup or two.
On Tuesday we hosted our 2019 Answer Plot event outside Pershing, IN. We were nervous about low attendance numbers going into the event because of the frustrating season we’ve had. “Would growers attend in good faith that we still have sound agronomic information to share with them?” we wondered.
We were pleased with the number of farmer-members who attended this annual event and the level of participation. There was tremendous questions, conversation, and insight. Harvest Land is proud to continue to offer this event to our members when so many attend to prove it’s ongoing value. We thank all who joined us for the day.
This week, we want to share photos from the event.
If you’re not directly working in agriculture – which, 98% of the population is not – talk of the challenging time in ag may not spur your curiosity. It may only be a 20-second segment on the evening news or a quick mention at the hardware store during check out. You may work or live in town, so it likely doesn’t matter much to you. But, you should care about this challenging time – unprecedented challenging time – because it does affect you. No one is exempt.
What’s the Problem?
The weather has been relentless to those who make a livelihood off the land. Let’s start in the fall of 2018:
When the crop is harvested off the field, a best practice is to apply a fall application, which is a herbicide that kills any weeds that may emerge. This ensures the field is clean and ready to be planted in the spring. But last fall, constant rain delayed harvest and also left fields saturated. This didn’t allow for equipment to get into the fields to apply this product, so the majority of fields went untouched. Fall application became something growers would have to take care of in the spring.
Folks with livestock such as cattle faced challenges from the uncooperative weather, also. Usually, a field can get three cuttings of hay in a summer season but that wasn’t the case in 2018. This resulted in a hay shortage last fall when stockmen were trying to produce or buy hay for the upcoming winter….the winter of 2018-2019: You know, the one that never ended. The extended winter, causing stockman to still feed hay in April, resulted in a real hay shortage. But the winter wasn’t just extended, it was brutal. Record temperatures and snowfall, blizzards striking America’s heartland multiple times, great loss of livestock in inclimate weather…each of these things compressed the issue. Then came the flooding.
Rain began in late March and never stopped. In a time when growers were hoping to apply the herbicide to kill the weeds so they could plant a crop, tractors, planters, and sprayers remained in the shop because they couldn’t get into the soggy fields. And there is a brief window of time in which a farmer can plant corn and soybeans. If that window is missed, there will be no crop at all. Now here we are, the middle of June, and fields still sit empty. Except for the weeds.
Also, in order for growers to get the best crop insurance possible, corn needed to be planed by June 6. After that date, farmers had to make a decision to either let the ground remain completely unplanted, or to plant an alternate crop. Maybe soybeans? The soybean market is already so weak, due to saturation of the market and tariffs, that there would be no money in that. We’re talking record low prices for the commodity.
As of June 9, just 60% of America’s soybean acres had been planted in our highest-producing states, compared with nearly 90% typically planted by this time of year. And just 83% of the corn crop is in the ground in the most productive states, a number that should be pushing 100%.
Some farmers are finally admitting
that this will be the first time in
their lifetime of farming
that there will be no crop.
This adds to an already extremely difficult run in agriculture. Land O’Lakes recently shared this information:
Due largely to sustained low commodity prices, average farm income in 2017 was $43,000, while the median farm income for 2018 was negative$1,500. In 2018, Chapter 12 bankruptcies in the farm states across the Midwest that are responsible for nearly half of all sales of U.S farm products rose to the highest level in a decade.
Those who support the American farmer are not spared in this grief. Ag retailers, such as the local farmer-owned cooperative, aren’t able to dispense the product they’ve purchased months ago because it has nowhere to go. There is no crop insurance for retail, they simply lose the money. Credit providers won’t get paid because the farmers have no income to make payments. Salesmen who may work on commission go without pay because no one has the money to buy. It is a cycle that affects stress levels and livlihoods by the thousands.
So, how are you affected?
The loss of income in agriculture this year will be in the billions. This will affect small towns across America in very real ways because this unprofitable year will affect ag retailers, seed companies, grain elevators, machinery dealers and more, all of which employs thousands in our area. All of which will have less in their pocketbook in a very real way. And when they’re making much less money, they’re spending less at local stores, restaurants, entertainment, car dealerships and beyond.
The price of food will also see an upward swing as the corn used to produce your favorite tortilla chips or the tomatoes you cook with simply aren’t being produced. We’re usually enjoying sweet corn by now…much won’t even be planted.
It is quite difficult to put into words the depth of despair agriculture is experiencing in this moment. The sickening statistic by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that suicide rates in farmers are higher than any other occupation today speaks volumes.
We urge you to take heart regarding this national crisis. It spares no one who eats or cares about their community. We invite you to check on those in your community who work in agriculture. You may only see them at the grocery, church pew, ballpark or parking lot, but a simple word to let them know they aren’t alone in this volatile time could make a world of difference in their state of mind. Let them know their work and effort matters.
We’ll keep this in mind, our faith keeping us rooted:
But I will bless the person who puts his trust in me. He is like a tree growing near a stream and sending out roots to the water. It is not afraid when hot weather comes, because its leaves stay green; it has no worries when there is no rain; it keeps on bearing fruit. – Jeremiah 17:7-8
Harvest Land stands beside our growers as we navigate this unbelievable time. Those of us in production agriculture will get through this because of our unwavering resolve which has benefitted stewards of the land from the beginning of time. And we’ll go on to live admirably, doing the greatest work in the world: Farming.
This week we gained this awesome resource from our partners at Winfield regarding the 2018 crop report. We’d like to share this insight with you. It offers crop update to this point in the season, but also a comparative look at 2018 to previous years.
If you have questions or want to make an in-season decision at your operation, don’t hesitate to contact your YieldPro Specialist.
Sound management decisions go a long way to help farmers secure yields and return on investment when growing corn. At Harvest Land, we offer a full consultative approach in which our YieldPro team prescribes a field-by-field plan for each year. Through the experience of our trained salespeople and input from our expert agronomists we have come up with our top recommendations for growing high yielding corn in our trade area.
Select hybrids from more than one maturity group for risk management and to spread out the workload at planting and harvest time. Choose hybrids with consistently high-yield corn ratings, good standability, strong disease resistance, and a range of maturities. Our trained sales staff can also walk you through the Characterization Charts to show the data from WinField United Answer Plots across the united states, and local plots, to help assist you in your hybrid selection.
Plant hybrids that have shown good yield trial results, plus your tried-and-true hybrids. Seed genetics with built-in herbicide tolerance traits can significantly enhance control of a broad range of tough-to-manage grasses and broadleaf weeds. Diversify hybrid choices to spread risk with a range of maturities and insect and disease susceptibilities.
Today’s seed treatments can protect against diseases, insect pests and nematodes to help get young corn plants off to a good start. The wide range of products available can be confusing. Your Harvest Land YieldPro Specialist can help you make good economic decisions focused on the pests you are most concerned with.
Season-long Weed Control
Starting clean with a solid burndown program and/or tillage is critical. Aim to control weeds before they reach 4 inches in height. Larger weeds are more difficult to control and compete more tenaciously with corn seedlings for sunlight, soil, water and other nutrients. “Driver weeds” like tall waterhemp and marestail usually take a special program (higher cost) for adequate control.
Top yields can only be achieved with a solid nutrient management program. Proper nitrogen fertilizer practices are critical for high-yielding corn. YieldPro has proven to be a very effective program to prescribe field-specific programs to achieve this goal.
Consider geography, weather and individual field conditions, such as drainage, when deciding if it’s fit to plant. Recommended planting dates for corn tend to range from early April to early May. Spring weather can change quickly from cool and wet to dry and warm. Planting when the field is too heavy can cause uneven emergence and potential yield reduction due to poor stands and soil compaction issues later in the season.
Follow your seed company’s recommendations because there are many variables, such as soil types, different hybrid maturity dates and yield potential on various soil types. Seeding rates are a decision best made field-by-field. The Characterization Charts your trained Harvest Land salesperson has access to, can help you decide the optimal seeding rate for your soil type and management style.
Spotting problems in the crop is imperative. Check fields early and often for emerging weeds, diseases and insects to help guide treatment decisions and economic thresholds. Season-long management of weed, disease and insect pests in corn will aid your goal for best return on investment at the end of the growing season. The YieldPro team has the solution for your scouting and diagnostic needs.
Fungicides are a valuable tool. Planned fungicide use helps prevent disease pressure from negatively impacting yields especially in a no-till situation with higher residue or in fields that were planted to corn the year prior. Every hybrid purchased through Harvest Land will have a response to fungicide rate which will prove valuable in accessing the need for an application. The other option is to “wait and see”, but timely field scouting is critical.
Use diversified management practices to manage resistance to herbicides, fungicides and insecticides. Select products from different classes of chemistries that attack multiple, effective sites of action. Refer to sources such as Herbicide Resistance Action Committee (HRAC), Fungicide Resistance Action Committee (FRAC) and Insecticide Resistance Action Committee (IRAC).
During this undesirable economic time, it is imperative every decision you make for your farm is thought through and driven to make you a positive ROI. Mother Nature cannot be totally predicted or controlled, but we can do all that we can to ensure our crop can perform to the best of its ability in all situation. High yielding corn can be achieved by taking pieces from this article and personalizing it to your fields. Our YieldPro team, trained sales staff, and expect agronomists can help you navigate these decisions and achieve your yield goals.