Rain after rain stops crop planting. Not getting seed in the ground worries farmers and forecasters don’t offer reassurances.
A drive from Columbia to Cape Girardeau and back gave a good look at excess water. The Meramec River was higher and wider than I’d seen. But, every stream overflowed.
Hottest topic at MU Extension weekly crop teleconferences was delayed planting. Bill Wiebold told of long-term research on planting date impact on yields. After Mid-May yield loss on corn gets serious.
We have seen messy spring plantings that end with good yields.
Farmers worry a lot about weather in April and May. But as Wiebold said July and August have bigger impact. Rain in July makes a corn crop. Or, not. Rain in late August after a drought makes a soybean crop.
Main advice in recent calls has been patience. Don’t mud in a crop. Let soil warm and dry. Compaction and cool wet soil reduce stands. Number of seeds emerging and making stalks determines yield at harvest.
News threads on e-mail offer comments on planting options. One noted that as corn prices drop, farmers plant more acres to offset the dollar drop. It’s the oversupply of corn stocks that depresses prices.
As corn planting time slips by farmers think of switching to later planting of soybeans. That’s worked in the past, but a huge carryover of beans lowers soy prices. China’s block on buying U.S. beans filled our bins. That lowers prices, so more beans will drag market prices lower.
Can farmers be blamed for feeling a no-win situation this year?
In a conference call Craig Roberts, MU Extension forage specialist noted that spring rains helped grass growth. Livestock farmers need a break on making some good baled hay for a change.
But, weather plays a trick by not sustaining warmth. Grass needs sunshine and warmth to grow. Grass needs overnight warmth to keep growing. We’ve had 70 degree days, but not 70 degree averages. When I leave for work in mornings, I feel chill still in the air.
Who would have thought that a warming of the oceans (and the Gulf of Mexico) would affect Missouri weather? But, warm water evaporates faster. The usual warming southern breezes bring more, tons more, of water vapor to the North. When humidity hits chilled air, rain falls out of the sky.
That slows our planting season. Further north, in the cooler zones of the Corn Belt, they feel the impact of wet weather even more than here in Missouri. Our impact comes from flood waters still to flow south on the Missouri and Mississippi rivers.
Floods on our big rivers destroy bottomland towns and farms.
There’s another unexpected impact from those high waters. Barge traffic halts in an effort to help protect town flood walls and farm levees.
Now, the soybeans that were sold can’t be moved south for export.
Weather affects everything farmers do, from planting seeds to selling those crops to foreign buyers.
Is it time to think of serious ways to reduce CO2 released into the atmosphere?
In farming, all depends on weather. Shortage of grass and especially lack of sheds full of hay bales affects beef calf prices.
Dave Paterson, MU beef reproduction specialist who invented Show-Me-Select heifers, and I went to Fruitland for the second SMS replacement heifer sale Friday night.
Bidders are slower to raise a hand when they are not sure they will have enough hay to get through the year.
A joke before sale start: “Any move above the waist counts as a bid.” That includes a nod or wink.
Driving to Fruitland, Dave and I marveled that we’ve done this for over 20 years. After the sale, I visited Glen Birk, Jackson, Mo., who I met at the first sale. This was his 41st SMS sale. He’s collected many premiums in that time, but didn’t say how many.
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