Water Water Everywhere

September 13, 2018

Water Water Everywhere from Central Valley Ag on Vimeo.

Today is one of those divisive times where I am speaking to a subset of you instead of the whole group. We have had some major rainfall events in portions of the Midwest over the last few weeks. This rainfall is going to prove to challenge us in many ways over the next few weeks, but also into the next growing season, and potentially even beyond 2019. Being mindful of those challenges now and preparing for them will let us have not just plans in place, but also secondary plans moving forward. And this may well prove to be significant in preserving profits.

So when I look at these rainfall totals for the end of August and beginning of September, I see three major pitfalls that could be coming down the road.

Crop Integrity in the Field: Those fields that have or had standing water in them in late August and September have a visible set of challenges facing them when it comes to their stalks and their stems. Rots, funguses, and molds all present potential problems that could lead to the crop being more difficult or even impossible to harvest. And frankly, there is only one solution, and that is to get after it. Early harvest needs to be an idea we explore every year, but this year, in particular, it may prove to be necessary. Determining the financial viability of it is not as hard as you think either. If grain loss (not getting it in the combine) and grain quality are larger than transportation costs, harvest costs, as well as drying and shrink, you win. And I can tell you when you pencil these considerations out in a good year, it is often in favor of early harvest, so adding grain quality to the equation definitely tips the scales.

Grain Storage: In most areas, grain storage will be at a premium this year. The weather did us a lot of favors and elevators will be busy. So for those of you that store grain on the farm, I see three big things we need to consider, Fungus Development, Moldy Grain, and storage life. Again, these are all things we may deal with in any given year, but the wet conditions again make any, if not all of these a bigger possibility this year. Expect elevators that channel grain to feed mills and ethanol plants to screen early harvest samples for toxins. Field scouting can help identify problems before harvest, and this again goes back to harvesting at risk fields early.

Compaction: Compaction is the silent thief. It will hurt us in a host of ways with these wet soils that we have now. While I just talked about how an early harvest might save our bacon in a couple of manners, the fact remains that if we get out there right away, while it is too wet, we will cause compaction that could hurt us for years to come. And with expected good yields in many areas, it is a good bet we will have full combines, carts, and even trucks out in those fields, squishing our soil. So what can be done about it? The only answer I have is patience. At least for now, we have time. One or two more days of letting the field dry isn’t going to put us in a bind or over the edge, but it could be the difference in root penetration, water infiltration, and a host of other factors next year tied to soil structure and soil health.

There is not a single strategy to move forward with; it is going to take you and your trusted advisor making a plan, creating a backup plan, and then being humble enough to throw those out the window adapting to whatever conditions Mother Nature throws at us. When conditions are favorable for storms to develop, a Meteorologist issues a watch. Well as of today as an Agronomist, I am doing the same thing for harvest conditions for specific areas.

By Keith Byerly

Posted: 9/13/2018 11:03:42 AM by Kelli Emanuel | with 0 comments