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.
We’re getting many questions about making planting adjustments for corn and also soybean varieties in this delayed season. We sat down with agronomist Steve Dlugosz and Seed Manager Brandon Lovett to address concerns and talk about why maturities do matter right now.
Take a look –
As always, your YieldPro team at Harvest Land is here to discuss with you the best options for success in this difficult season.
A few weeks ago we sat down with grower Gary Lawyer to discuss the success he had in managing high-yield soybeans in 2018. Gary offered insight into why he believes 2018 was his best year, yet.
Applying fungicide and insecticide worked tremendously for Lawyer and his plan is to follow the same protocol in 2019.
Timing is important: An extra trip later in the season to manage disease can truly pay.
“Get better before you get bigger, and this is the easiest way I’ve found to do that.” – Gary Lawyer
Click below to watch Agronomist Steve Dlugosz and YieldPro Specialist David Vansickle discuss the keys to success grower Gary Lawyer used in 2018 to manage high-yield soybeans, and the things he will do again in 2019.
To back up this insight, below are yield numbers from the area we’re discussing:
Contact your YieldPro Specialist to develop your plan for better performance today. Also, if you want to begin receiving our agronomic emails, you can visit https://www.harvestlandcoop.com/Agronomy and sign up at the bottom of the page.
We’re seeing a huge resurgence of Japanese beetles in the fields this summer, despite the populations being fairly low in most recent years. Japanese beetles are general defoliators. The good news is they tend to feed on a single leaf, and stay on that leaf.
As you can see here, they’ve fed on those top leaves, but the leaves around it remain untouched:
We don’t evaluate defoliation based on a particular leaf, but rather whole plant defoliation. So even though these photos – taken in Wayne County – look really terrible, the loss is fairly minimal.
Japanese beetles give off a pheromone, which attracts other beetles in. Many times, you can notice a few feeding, but by the end of the day you’ll have massive amounts of beetles feeding on areas of the field.
The damage from Japanese beetles will typically be fairly localized. We’ve seen farmers hang a boom over the edge of the concentrated area and take care of it that way. There may be, however, such concentrations that farmers will be more inclined to spray the whole field, especially if they’re going to apply a fungicide soon. We recommend adding another insecticide such as Delta Gold® and taking care of them that way.
As always, your YieldPro Specialist is available to answer all of your questions. We encourage you to reach out to them if you have any concerns.
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.
Harvest Land farmer-member Bill Mort of Pendleton recently won big with his AG 3334 Asgrow soybeans harvested in 2016. But he isn’t taking all of the credit.
“It was nothing magical we did. Mother Nature was right in there,” said Mort, who has been farming for more than four decades and is the third generation in his family, with the fourth generation on the farm.
Mort raised 85.2 bushels an acre. He was one of two winners from Indiana in the Asgrow national soybean yield contest.
“We had the right bean and the right fertility and it just clicked,” Mort said.
Mort purchased all of his beans from Harvest Land in 2016 and went on to do the same for 2017. He also worked with Harvest Land on more than half of his corn acres.
He also utilizes the co-op for his direct fertilizer needs.
He said the weather in his area was almost custom-made for big soybean yields in 2016. While the area saw plentiful rains, the timing made the difference.
“There were farms here that didn’t get planted in 2015 because we had five to six inches of rain. Last year, we had a lot of rain, but it was spaced out and in smaller amounts. It was a perfect storm, and it kicked up the yields in beans. We had average yields in corn, but the beans were exceptional,” Mort said.
Late summer dryness and heat had Mort out checking fields.
“It got dry and hot, and I was concerned. I could see there were a lot of pods, but we didn’t realize what we had. We did a pod count, and we knew they were going to be strong 60s,” he said.
Mort does regular soil testing and advocates for seed treatments.
“I think when you’re planting early you want to do that to keep them safe, especially if it’s cool weather. I think it’s worth it,” he said.
“We started about the middle of April. We bought a vertical tillage tool and ran over some of the ground with that and dried it out to get in there and
plant,” he said.
As to the ability of the Asgrow brand to produce, Mort said he’s a repeat customer.
“I’m going to be planting Asgrow again this year,” he said.
“We enjoy working with Bill out of our Lapel Ag Center,” says Dave Vansickle, Harvest Land YieldPro Specialist. “He is a smart operator and that’s why he remains successful. We’re always glad to see good things happen to Harvest Land customers. This contest is no exception.”
Early planting. Seed treatment. And always, the weather.
Those are the keys to the record-yield Asgrow beans that winners of the 2016 Asgrow national yield contest raised, with yields in the 100-bushel and 80-bushel-an-acre range.
We look forward to working with you
towards a successful growing season again this year .
Much of this information originally appeared in an Agri-News article.