Southern Spotlight: It’s Really Dry So…

James Banahan

James Banahan

The weather.

It’s a crappy conversation starter.

But.  When you’ve sorted through the greater mess at the coffee shop and find some room at the bottom of the cup for just one more conversation…Or when your FSA encounters an uncomfortable moment of silence sitting at your kitchen table…The weather suddenly makes for a very fine topic indeed.

Let me make a few predictions: Either it will be too hot or too wet and July and August will be really dry.

Ta-da!  Agree?

Kidding aside, a lot of you have been talking about the weather this week.  And it’s got me a little nervous.  Everyone seems to agree that we didn’t have a great winter for refilling the soil profile.  And everyone seems to agree that it’s going to be dry this summer.  The thing that makes me nervous is what fills in the blank afterward: “It’s really dry so ___________.”

It’s really dry, so I’m backing out of corn and planting more milo.

It’s really dry, so I’m not going to plant my corn as heavy.

It’s really dry, so I’m taking my herbicide program down to bare bones.

These are ranked in order of the way they make me jump, from least to most.  I’ve heard each numerous times in the past week from numerous growers, so I’ve been jumping a lot.  Each is understandable from a certain angle, but each also has its problems:

Planting more milo: This tack is the least alarming to me.  Milo basis is currently better than corn, so I can understand backing down on corn, so long as the decision is based in your past yield history.


Not planting corn as heavy: This tack could work, but it could also go so terribly wrong.  If you’re considering this, make sure that you are using a hybrid that allows you to cut your populations back some without negative effect—not all hybrids allow for this successfully.  A better plan than a blanket slashing of your population numbers would be variable rate seeding.  This approach would better tailor your plan to cut back to your fields according to historical yield data and production goals.

Bare bones herbicide: This is the tack that makes me jump out of my skin.  Y’all know how I feel about skimping on something proven to return on your investment.  Regardless of how dry it is, a solid herbicide program makes you money in the end.

Which is an easy opinion to write off if you’re thinking about me as another sales type trying to make my numbers look good.  Truthfully though, whether it’s me you’re dealing with or another FSA, we could focus on cutting your costs as our main goal, but history has borne out that when we do that, we all lose sight of the bigger picture and everyone ends up disappointed, you most of all.  When it seems like we’re trying to “sell” you something, like using a good herbicide program, what we’re actually doing is trying to make your operation more profitable.  Sure, it might cost you more money upfront, but the benefit will be greater than any initial cost, in terms of the quality of your stands and in terms of the thickness of your wallet.