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Remembering Memorial Day-Roy Smith

The Memorial Day weekend is anything but a relaxing holiday at the Smith Farm. That has been the case since I started farming full time in 1969. Until I partially retired in 2004, I was planting soybeans over the weekend in most years. In recent years, including this one, soybean planting is complete well before the holiday. This year I finished planting beans on May 18. It seems like a vacation to have that task finished by now.

By Memorial Day, in most years, there are weather concerns. When I planted soybeans with a drill it always seemed as if the soil was dry and I was hoping for rain to germinate the seed. In other years there was too much rain and the worry was that the crops would be planted late. Neither is the case this year. My weather concern now is that there is too much rain in the upper Missouri River basin and that my tiny acreage of soybeans on the river bottom will be flooded out. With the river level at 29 feet and the flood stage at 26, I do not need to worry about that problem.

Markets at the end of May are usually a concern. That is certainly the case this year. Where normally prices have dropped going into the holiday because planting is going well, this year prices are in an up trend.  Soybeans have not yet matched the high they made in February. New crop corn futures tested their previous highs today (Friday). They appear ready to post new highs if the weather does not change over the weekend. I have two concerns about marketing. The first is in knowing when to make my next sale. I sold some new crop soybeans on Tuesday for $13.70 less basis. I still have a few bushels of old crop corn in the bin that needs to be priced. The second concern is that the basis has taken a big hit in the last few days. The basis for old crop soybeans has dropped 20 cents this week. I hope that is processors protecting their profits over the long weekend and not a sign of diminishing demand.

On the family side, one daughters’ family will be on vacation for the next few days. The other one just returned from a trip to Disney World. I always enjoy having the family together but it will not happen this year. They will be home for our wedding anniversary the following Sunday. The grandchildren enjoy getting together, especially when they do not have to think about homework.

Memorial Day has more meaning to me now that I am treasurer of the local cemetery board. It is added work and responsibility. It is also very gratifying to see the grass mowed short and flowers on the graves. Being on the cemetery board means being worried about the finances when the income is limited. I have learned from experience that people care a lot about the condition of cemeteries. If you have relatives in a rural cemetery, consider a donation to help with the upkeep.

Finally, we buried an old timer today. I rented a farm from this nice lady and her husband for 28 years. She was 88 years old. I attended a rural elementary school with her daughters. It was one of those relationships that was both business and social. It worked out very well for a long time. The minister informed us this morning that her goal was to live in her home until she passed away. He commented that she won that battle! My relationship with that family will be something I will remember for many Memorial days to come.


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