If you average the extreme drought and heat of 2012 and the wetter, cooler summer of 2013 together, you might get a “normal” year. It isn’t that unusual to have good crops following a year of extreme drought. While much of the state was still drier than normal this season, almost every farmer would agree that it certainly was cooler than a year ago, and most portions of the state received at least a few timely rains.
It seems we are easily lulled into the idea that every growing season will be like this one. Last season, I heard farmers worry about a follow up drought, thinking the heat and dry weather would never change. Yet, it did, at least to some extent.
In 2009, and again this year, when many farmers experienced bumper crops, the thinking is that next year will be the same. It might be the same, but we should all know by now that it very well could be different.
The best advice I’ve heard is to hope for the best and prepare for the worst. That means we probably should always have a drought plan in place as a backup. We should probably also have thought about where to go for storage with extra grain if we need it.
With livestock, we always need to be concerned about feeding the herd if pastures are short or winters are long. But, we also need to be flexible enough to take advantage of excess forage when it becomes available, as it did in many places this season.
There seems to be no time for complacency on the farm, and winter is a good time to take stock in our plans for next season. But, it is anyone’s guess what the next growing season, or marketing season for that matter, will bring. I'm sure UNL Extension state climatologist, Al Dutcher, will be very popular on the winter farm meeting circuit, and everyone will be anxious to hear him predict what is going to happen in the upcoming growing season. But Al will tell you that weather patterns might be trending one way right now, but things can always change, and sometimes drastically change. After all, this is Nebraska.
Here is this week’s discussion question. What kind of weather are you expecting during the growing season 2014? You can share your thoughts and discussion right here.
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