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Missing the obvious

Agriculture.com Staff 06/11/2010 @ 12:03pm

It has been an interesting week at the Smith farm. I finished planting on May 19, so that task has been out of the way for a while. I have been spending more than the normal amount of time scouting fields because I had a failure of my burn down program for no-till soybeans and need to stay on top of the effort to correct the problem. The first of the affected fields was resprayed on Saturday, June 5. Failure of the burn down program is new too me and something that I have no experience with.

The bin contractor was also here on Saturday to finish repairs to one of the two grain bins that had damage from last winter's snow. He wanted to finish while there was corn in the bin so that scaffolding would not be necessary. There is still one bin to go, but at least now the farmer who rents the bins can remove his grain from the bin that now has a roof stronger than when new.

The concrete contractor who is going to pour a pad for my new drying fan and also a pad for dumping trucks was here on Thursday to size up that job. With construction business slow due to the economy, that job will get done in a timely manner.

The farmer who rents two bins from me called on Wednesday to tell me that he wanted to start hauling sooner than anticipated because a bin he rents from another retired farmer had an unloading motor that would not run. Having some experience in repairing electric motors, I offered to see if I could help get that operation running. One quick look told me that this motor was older than I am. It is repulsion-induction motor that is reversible. That type of motor has not been in general use since shortly after World War II. I declined to even attempt to make any repairs, considering its age and the fact that the brushes were rusted in their holders.

This morning I asked my friend if the owner of the motor had any luck in getting it running. He said that there was nothing wrong with the motor, that the electrical breaker was defective. When they switched breakers, the auger ran fine. How could I have missed the obvious in diagnosing the problem?

So often in making management decisions farmers miss the obvious. In any given year we wonder if grain prices are going to go up or down. However, every year storage and interest costs increase from harvest until the following summer. In every year there is a period of time when the size of the next year's crop is unknown because of production risk. In most years that is a time when prices are higher than they will be at harvest.

The question that arises is why it is so difficult for farmers to pull the trigger on sales and be satisfied with the results. Selling becomes an emotional function that most individuals are never quite satisfied with. The last two weeks of June are a time when there is more than the normal amount of uncertainty in the grain markets. The long term seasonal charts show that this should be a time of price improvement for soybeans and corn. That is not happening. It is frustrating for those farmers who have grain to sell, especially if it is 2009 grain and the storage and interest costs are mounting daily. It should have been so easy to sell before now when prices are higher!

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