1. Your cheeks will glow
2. into debt you'll go
3. nothing will grow
4. hope they'll grow
5. your farm will go
Even if you're not in spring wheat country, wet weather is keeping most farmers out of the fields. Moisture is good news to relieve the drought, but early planting is a critical yield factor for corn, spring wheat, and sugarbeets.
At least we're all in this together. Last fall we had a horrible sugarbeet harvest. In a normal year, harvest begins October 1, and ideally lasts for 2 weeks, maybe 3. Last year we attempted to harvest all the way up to Thanksgiving, and then we still left sugarbeets in the field. We found out a sugarbeet harvester can't tell the difference between a sugarbeet, and a frozen mud chunk.
But last fall it was a relatively small area that could not harvest. It was a tough harvest for nearly all sugarbeet farmers in the Red River Valley, but it was an impossible harvest for just a few of us in the Northern RRV. It was a very isolating experience.
This spring we are all in the same boat, and there is a sense of safety in numbers. Delayed plantings aren't just my problem, they are your problem too. Minnesota still has widespread snow (some schools were canceled today, April 19!) and North Dakota is digging out from a record April snowfall. Corn Belt farmers are waiting for sunshine after heavy, heavy rains and even flooding. This week's crop progress report should be renamed the "Lack of Progress Report."
Many Northern Plains farmers are already changing their corn acres. Most of us are not "corn farmers" but "farmers who grow corn" (we don't have dryers or a corn header, have limited storage, and not enough hopper bottom trailers) so don't blame us for being a little nervous. We're still dipping our toe in the corn acres, nervous about how to handle the bushels, dry them, store them, and when to harvest. The snow is still deep, the forecast is cold, and there is no imminent sign of when planting will begin. It is easier to turn back to the safety of wheat, and maybe barley.
We took a little drive last night to see if there are any signs of life in the fields. I did manage to find a group of swans 2 miles east of me. I see geese and ducks all the time, but swans are unusual. They were a little camera shy, but it made me think that maybe this Ugly Duckling of a spring may have a beautiful ending. When I showed my 10 year old the picture, she said "Mom, where did you find a field with dirt?" Come on you Ugly Duckling Planting season, surprise me and become a beautiful swan in a few months.