John’s World: 2018 Carryover Isn’t Just in Our  Grain Bins

John's World 04/13/19
As planting season nears for many, farmers' enthusiasm is somewhat dampened by the mental and agronomic scars from the harvest last fall. ( Farm Journal )

The moment soon approaches when we will mount up and do our thing in the fields. Only this year, our enthusiasm is somewhat dampened by the mental and agronomic scars from the harvest last fall. The persistent rain and snow, the winds and fragile stalks, and the date on the calendar all conspired to force too many of us to commit acts of desperation we knew we would regret this spring.

We were right. While there is still time to cope with ruts and incomplete tillage – if any at all, we haven’t exactly seen a warm, dry early spring needed for field rehab. I’ve been through a handful of bad falls and tough springs, but it has been a while, and I have to admit the larger, more powerful machinery now at our command has the unfortunate disadvantage of being able to make truly monumental scars on the land under the conditions we saw last fall.

Moreover, at least on ground like ours, where drainage is a constant battle, the compaction in the trenches cut last fall pretty much makes drying from the top the only way these places are going to become workable. So unless we see warm temperatures with low humidity, brisk winds and clear skies, forecasts tend to disappoint.

We’ll eventually get the surface smoothed over like thick icing on an ugly cake, but my experience is yield maps will reflect the Ghosts of Harvest 18 for several years to come. Last year was the most frustrating harvest I have seen around here, and its memory will remain a voice of urgency in our heads for the next few falls, regardless of weather and soil conditions. 

The carryover from 2018 is not just piled in our bins, it’s staring us in the face in our fields.    

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