Richard Keller
Richard Keller

With all the extreme weather hitting the nation this spring, it actually was amazing how much Midwest farm ground was planted in the short periods of reasonable weather. As we all know, ag retailer operations and their employees worked exceptionally hard in short bursts to meet their customers’ needs.

A lot of ground was delayed in planting, but not as delayed as most of us would have predicted based on the national weather and disaster areas proclaimed in 32 states by mid-May.

Wouldn’t it be amazing to capture the power of tornadoes for the good of mankind instead of watching the destruction and loss of life that occurred this spring?

There was so much turbulent weather this spring that depending on the definition, the number of tornadoes spawned across the nation during April either was somewhere over 600 or as many as 900 — either number being records.

May started out slow but one fateful tragic night of May 22 resulted in more than 70 tornadoes, according to some meteorological reports, but this was fewer than the swath of tornadoes that went across the South in two days in April.

Tornadoes and torrential rain and flooding in the Midwest and Mississippi River Basin had their roots in another disaster area for some of the nation’s farmers — the sweltering hot and dry Southwest.

The wild weather has been blamed on “widely opposing air masses clashing headlong” into each other—the hot, dry air of the Southwest and the cool, wet air leftover from exceptional snowfall in the West and Upper Midwest.

Estimates by reputable sources would indicate around 1 percent of land flooded this spring won’t be planted during 2011, but that means 99 percent is likely to yield some amount of grain or fiber.

As for farmers in the Southwest, or the area that some compare to the Dust Bowl boundaries of the 1930s, there is little likelihood of harvesting much of anything because of drought and blown out ground. According to state weather data, portions of the Oklahoma panhandle have set a record for the longest drought on record.

It is hard to comprehend the difference in weather that can be 200 miles apart.

Having not grown up in the drought area, I don’t fully understand the use of no-till in such areas, but if there ever were a need for more research on making even greater improvements in no-till cropping, then this drought ought to spur it.

That thought leads me into mentioning two articles in this issue of AgProfessional that touch the edge of the drought disaster. Jim Ruen explains the reduced budgets for all types of land grant university and Extension research for improved crop production, and I have noted the need for training in irrigation efficiency and quickly adopting new technology in irrigation.

In my way of thinking, our ag retailers, ag consultants and farm managers can step up to be advocates for new tools and techniques as they are discovered and for including them in farming operations.

AgProfessional tries to provide background about what is happening in agriculture to spur third-party influencer investigation so they can be even more important to their farmer clients and customers.