I’d bet my morning coffee that John Fogerty didn’t quite have planting woes in his mind when he wrote that song, but it’s our anthem as of late nonetheless. Usually, we’re asking, “Who will start the rain?” or “Where is the rain?” or probably most accurately, “When’s it going to ##@%!#& rain?” Oh, but this year…this year is its own animal.
Most of y’all are just waiting to put your soybeans into the ground, but with the excess precipitation we’ve experienced as of late, it’ll likely take a week or so of a little warmth and some wind to get the ground back into a condition that we might even think about planting into. Unfortunately, the very same conditions that we need to enable planting, weeds need to grow. A little warmth and wind after all this water is a sure recipe for the suckers to perk up all around.
And while I know that you are so over this patience crap, don’t let your excitement and anxiety run amok over your plans to spray. Weed control is paramount to our success this season, so while the wheat is starting the head, the alfalfa is approaching a first cut, and we yet have planting to accomplish, don’t forget in your rush to spray.
In fact, spraying should be at the top of your to-do list. It is that critically important to your bottom line. If you consider it from a yield perspective, which affects your yield more: weed competition or delaying planting by a few days? Ding ding ding for those of you who answered the former. Weed competition can exert great impact on your yield, so move spraying up a spot or two on that long checklist in your mind.
I know. It’s another use of the precious (and rare) commodity that is your time, but truly, planting into a clean field is among the most important things you can do to ensure a good season in terms of both yield and your stress level. Taking out weed competition while it is small and unestablished is far easier than fighting it when those evil weeds have got some weight and hold.
If you can’t get time off your mind though—if you’re feeling so antsy that you can barely wait to plant or so pressed for time that you can barely breathe—you might talk to your FSA about herbicide options and/or the possibility of aerial spraying. The right product and method will help your fields be ready to run when you are.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve had a producer call me in a panic because he or she planted into a mess. They always want me to promise them a miracle, but you know what? I’ve spent a lifetime in this industry and I haven’t seen one yet. If you plant into something that doesn’t seem a good situation, I’m probably going to share your same opinion, and so will your crops. Every one of us loses when we skip vital steps like spraying for weeds in our haste to plant.
Someday soon enough, somebody’s going to stop the rain. Then comes the sun, then comes the spraying, then comes the planting and we’ll all be in good ol’ shape, if a little later than we would have preferred.