Suddenly It’s June 6!

Hoosier Perspectives

Planting window opens for some, others face tough decisions.

Published on: June 6, 2011

Those who said there would be a break in the weather were finally right. Of course, they were saying it for about a month before it happened. And it may not be enough of a break to bail out those with river bottom land and other saturated soils who hoped to see corn growing there this year.

Slowly but surely, the percentage planted numbers go up, both for corn and soybeans. It's now dangerously late for both crops if you have top yields plugged into your budgets. This may be one of those years where the person who used conservative numbers in his budgets and fought the temptation to buy the extra tillage tool or tractor and run up the debt or pay an extra $20 per acre rent for the farm down the road may sleep a little better at night.

A lot can happen between now and mid-October. Some years it's good, and later--planted crops do surprisingly well. I will never forget the old farmer who planted soybeans July 16- the first time, just because he was slow, and harvested 33 bushels per acre in 30-inch rows. Of course, I also know of people who had great double-crop soybeans on Oct 1 of another year, and 20-bushel-potential, toasted, frosted B-B producers October 2.

In some years, this year is no different than any other. Yes, it's been a challenge. Name one year that hasn't been a challenge for someone somewhere. This time, just more people, at least more Hoosiers, are sharing in the misery.

I grew up hearing stories about how my uncle couldn't plow until June 20, and yet raised 140 bushel corn. Of course, they probably didn't intend to plant until May 20 anyway. Did it really make 140, and with only a couple inches of water on it after it quit raining? I don't know, but it made a great story my late father loved to tell, especially in years like this one.

Farming is a gamble. The stakes are just higher this year, both on the input and output side. But you knew when you signed the dotted line and borrowed money to put out the crop, or put away the money for this year's crop, that the Lord makes no guarantees. No one was guaranteed and early planting date, and most people certainly didn't get it.

There's still a lot of season to go. It could continue going south, and turn out too hot, too dry, too cool, too wet. Or it could level out and provide a decent harvest. You won't know until the dust settles behind the combine next fall.

And then the next day you'll start thinking about 2012, and what to grow where, which hybrid to use, and so forth. That's because that's what farmers do, whether things are just to their liking or not.

There will be more springs ahead for most of us. Hopefully, most will be better than this one. But there are no do-overs or mulligans in farming. It's time to take what you've got, and manage it the best you can for the rest of this season.

Good luck along the way!