Best Laid Plans

by James Banahan

by James Banahan

Big rains aren’t always a good thing.

Some of y’all reading this have received already over 30% of your average annual rainfall this month alone. Yikes.

If cattle are your main focus, that’s probably not such a bad thing. I’m betting that your ponds have started filling, even if ever so slightly.

If crops are your main focus though, things might not be as rosy as you had hoped for them to be at this point in the year.

The name of that game is nitrogen loss. I’ve written about it here and I’ve talked with many of you about it face to face. Some of you have told me that you get it, but that “it has to rain first” before you’d worry about loss.



It rained, and I’m not entirely sure that you didn’t lose a percentage of what you had out there. Which isn’t to say I told you so or to “nutrient shame” you or even to chide you for any conventional tilling practices that caused the erosion of so much reproductive soil. It is to say that the crop you (probably) haven’t even planted yet still has such great potential.

When things dry off, you’ll look at the calendar and realize that it’s nearly the 1st of May and you aren’t ready to plant soybeans yet. Don’t let this throw you into a tizzy. Instead, take the time to reread some of Mike’s articles and/or watch a video about sidewall compaction. Think about what you may have lost nutrient-wise or capacity-wise from this rain event and sit down with your FSA to plan how you will manage your fields going forward. Will you pull tissue samples, for example? Side dress? Fertigate? What about resin balls? All are things to consider and discuss in your best laid plans for the season.

Maybe you don’t have an issue even given the rain. Maybe I’m being a paranoid weirdo about all the worst case scenarios. But isn’t that why you trust your FSA? Doesn’t it feel good to have someone looking out for you, even if they are paranoid and weird?

I know that uncertainty is a scary thing but managing our risk and coming up with a contingency plan now might save us all some heartache later this summer when the rains might not be so plentiful and our options more limited. The season is upon us, and though the rain may have thrown us a first pitch curve ball, we can yet move forward with (somewhat altered) best laid plans for a successful crop.