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Bring on the mud

Agriculture.com Staff 07/18/2006 @ 1:16pm

I never thought I would be saying this so it must be the heat doing it. The very thing I have looked at with no appreciation and usually disgust is now something I would look forward to with a lot of newfound appreciation and gratitude.

My former enemy is now my friend. It has been gone so long I miss it. What is it that I am missing? I would enjoy a field of mud right now.

It is hard to believe that someone could miss mud, but I do. That stuff that clings to my shoes, makes my car dirty, and stops all fieldwork would be a welcome treat right now.

The stuff that caused my combine to sink down to its front axle several harvests ago and required two wreckers to get the combine out is now my friend, and I miss my friend. The wheel rut from the combine was still there in that wet spot last spring. It even had water in it. It was probably a watering hole for wildlife until a few weeks ago.

Of course, the key ingredients in mud are soil and water, and while I have the soil -- or, more accurately, dust -- the other ingredient is lacking. I need water to make mud.

It is that water that falls from the sky called rain that always comes free. Today I would be happy to pay for it. Right now I would say that rain is more valuable than gasoline or diesel fuel, and that is saying a lot when buying a tank or barrel of fuel today.

A friend of mine went camping with his family a week ago and told me how they were rained on while camping. He figured the rain came because his son brought a tent along. I told him I would pay his son a thousand dollars, no questions asked, for the tent if it brought rain. I would not care if the tent had a hole in it and leaked.

Surprisingly, the crops seem to be holding their own in spite of recent temperatures in the 90s. My last planted corn is on a farm that tends to be wet. That is why it was planted last -- because it finally got dry enough. The corn there has not pollinated yet, but with a break in the heat and the farm's poorly drained condition, the corn there will do very well off-setting the later planting date.

There has been some set back because we now know where the hilltops are when looking across the field. We were feeling smart a few weeks ago because it looked like we would be harvesting 100% of our fields since we have not had any flooding with drowning out of the low spots. So far, the low spots are still safe, but where the soil is light, such as a hilltop, I do not think anybody's yield monitor will be displaying any big numbers when the combine goes over that part of the field.

Maybe that is a lesson in farming. In a wet year, you lose the low spots and in a dry year, you will lose the high ones. That would mean if you can harvest 100% of your field, you have had quite a year. It also means that in most years harvesting 90% of your field is more likely than harvesting 100%. Weather always has the last word.

This is enough to possibly make me appreciate mowing my lawn instead of complaining about having to mow it every week. I cannot say I miss mowing the lawn, but I would not do any complaining if I knew the green grass had resulted from a couple inches of rain falling over several days covering all my fields.

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Weather Trumps Demand