There is no normal when it involves planting-time weather. While keeping that in mind, the growing season has gotten off to a horrible start.
The first corn, yellow and weak, emerged from the saturated ground just before Memorial Day. Much soybean ground remained unplanted as farmers began to discuss prevented planting deadlines.
The final planting date for insurance purposes in Minnesota is May 31 for corn and June 10 for beans. The Iowa deadline is the same for corn, but June 15 for soybeans. The late planting period extends for 25 days after both deadlines.
Farmers who have made good planting progress did so in a bearish market that came following a World Agricultural Supply and Demand report that projected increased corn and soybean stocks.
The USDA estimates that the on-farm average corn price will be $3.30 per bushel, which is the lowest price since 2006. The average soybean price is estimated at $8.10, which also is the lowest since 2006.
Many farmers were caught off-guard by President Donald Trump’s decision to provide $16 billion in aid to offset financial losses caused by the on-going tariff fight with China. The assistance is likely to mostly go to soybean producers, but others will also get help.
The government does indeed give, but it also takes away.
“Get government out of agriculture’’ has been a battle cry for producers for decades. Suspicion remains strong that government is involved to hold food prices down so consumers have more money to spend on other things.
Dad was a fence-sitter in that regard, at least he was until the neighboring farmer stopped by. To them, arguing was a sport best practiced while leaning on a tractor fender or pitchfork.
Mother was the peacemaker who worked to tamp down loud voices with coffee and cookies and talk about the weather.
Dad, who grew frustrated when corn needed to be replanted because the seed had rotted in the ground due unrelenting rain and cold, blamed it on Russian and American space flights that had pierced the atmosphere.
It seemed as a reasonable idea as any at a time when the weather forecasters on both TV and radio lacked computerized forecast help. The above-ground nuclear testing conducted by the United States, the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom also got Dad riled up.
Above-ground testing, which wasn’t banned until 1963, had spread contamination worldwide. The government had advised, but most farmers ignored, an early 1960s recommendation to avoid letting cows graze because it was possible that grass had been contaminated. The scare also impacted cranberry producers, who saw demand fall their product for the same reason.
The concern was not unfounded. Nevada, sparsely populated then, was ideal for above-ground tests. Ranchers downwind from the test site had far higher cancer rates than the general population.
The nuclear threat hit home in October 1963 when the Cuban missile crisis brought the Soviet Union and the United States to the brink of war. Fallout shelters in schools received new attention along with the drills that had students duck and cover beneath their desks.
Mother rarely raised her voice even when the man who came to collect a case or two of eggs double-checked to see that no brown eggs were in it. He seldom bought them, but when he did the price was discounted. She would be surprised to learn that many decades later many consumers prefer brown eggs over white.
Mother loved her chickens, but hated it when they invaded the garden. The chickens dusted themselves in the dirt, knocked over flowers and ate strawberries. She had been after Dad for years to build a chicken wire fence with a wooden gate. He never got around to it until she finally was as mad as I ever saw her.
He constructed a fine fence shortly thereafter. It was, he insisted, the finest one he’d ever built. Mother didn’t disagree; her patience was rewarded.
Let’s hope that farmers who still have corn and beans to plant and alfalfa to harvest will also be rewarded in a similar fashion.