Spring planting like guerilla warfare – hit and retreat

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A parade of rainy fronts marched through the Mid-South in April and early May, keeping farmers from making much progress on planting.

A couple of weeks of dry, warm weather would help, but this planting season is definitely going down as another strange one.

I have no idea when this will end. We have bid the wet, rainy spring good riddance four or five times already, only to see it come back a week later with another round of the same old, same old.

For the past five or six years, the only weather pattern one can depend on is that there is no weather pattern. Each spring, an apprehension disturbs the calm of the farming community, as nature’s hot and cold forces once again jockey for dominance.

“What’s going to happen this time?”

In 2013, rain happened. I’m looking out my window now. It’s raining. Again.

In early May, there is supposed to be cotton up, corn rising and the planting season is supposed to be in high gear. But farmers are asking questions like, “What the heck am I going to plant in this field?” or “How far can a temperature drop in one day?” Or from those more pensive, “Theoretically, just how much rain can a cloud hold?”

Throw out statistics, forecasts and 5-year averages. They mean nothing anymore under Mother Nature’s new regime. The new boss is not the same as the old boss.

Case in point. Could anything have been worse from a whole- season perspective than the 2009 season, when the rains fell all harvest season long?

Who could forget driving down the road and seeing corn, soybeans and cotton sitting in fields amongst the rain puddles, ready for harvest. For some, the ground didn’t firm up until it froze in January.

The 2010 season started off with producers fixing the ruts from the year before. Fortunately, many producers in the Delta had the best planting season they had in a number of years, with cotton planting beginning as early as April 1.

Had things returned to “normal?”

Not by a longshot. In 2011, it rained so much up north into an already bloated river that tributaries along the southern part of the Mississippi began to flow backwards. Entire crop fields were gobbled up by a historic flood.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers blew open spillways to save towns. It was dry in parts of the Mid-South that spring, so flooded fields often sat next to ones under drought stress.

In the end, Mid-South farmers gathered a decent crop despite the bite of a historic 500-year flood.

The 2012 planting season was perhaps the best ever in the Mid-South, but this season seems its complete bi-polar opposite. Hardly any cotton or soybeans had been planted by May 1. Other crops have been languishing in soaked conditions.

So, as the rain relents, you pick your spots and hit fields with everything you’ve got. You’ve heard of guerilla warfare. This is guerilla planting. All we can do is have faith that the heat units will come.

 

 

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