Go time: Farm wheels turning, tracks churning

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When you grow up in a wet county, you learn a few tricks to clue you in about when it is time to hit the field.

Charlie McFarland always said it was not time to plow until the third day the dust flew on his dirt road. My dad said it was the second day after the first neighbor started.

I was the first to plant soybeans one year, against all Dad’s objections. He said it was too wet, and I would just make concrete. I said we had to get started. He was right. I ended up with an 80-acre field with severe emergence problems. I hit it twice with Carl Stokes’ rotary hoe trying to get the beans through the crust.

The young bucks today don’t know about rotary hoes. I don’t remember the last time I saw one work. Even though running a rotary hoe about 12 miles an hour is just about as much fun as you can have with your work clothes on, they went away sometime after the buggy whip.

Even with the hoeing, the beans were still lousy. Dad was right and I was wr.., wr.., wrong.

In the fields

I don’t know who was right and who was wrong, but Rob and Lew Gale were planting corn Sunday in Cherry Valley, and the Millers had crews planting oats, corn, and beans all at the same time Monday in Trumbull County. There was even a little dust flying at Coltmans’ in Wayne last night. Darn little, but enough to count!

I could tell it was time to plant because I was able to almost finish mowing my lawn for the first time Monday night. That is the new measure of ground condition, for the retired farmer. By the time most of my six acres of soggy lawn can be covered, even at high speed skipping over the soft spots with the zero-turn grass chewer, it is time to farm.

So, Squeeze was right. She said I should quit whining, and the sun would shine eventually. She has been through this with me nearly 37 years now, and acts like she worries less than I do. I think she worried more when she was feeding us all off the farm.

A few days ago it looked like the forecasts had us not planting until after the 15th, but some of the rain did not come. We had a quarter of an inch Friday, and that was all the rain for six days.

Progress report

So, the USDA Planting Progress Report out after the close of trading Monday was more interesting than it has been.

As of Sunday night, the nation had 40 percent of the corn planted, and even 7 percent of the soybeans. That would not be true for Ohio, which is at the bottom of the chart to date. We went all the way from 1 percent to 2 percent planted in corn. I guess we owe that to the Gales.

The country as a whole had 80 percent in last year, a year we will remember not as long as this one, for the opposite reason.

Normal is 59 percent, and we were at just 13 percent last week. Ohio normally is at 54 percent by now, and had 74 percent planted this time last year.

I remember last year as one of the few years when May was warm. We planted early, the corn grew in May, and we harvested early. Most years we plant in April, but don’t see much growth this far north for the month of May.

That is why planting this week is still a good thing. Good temperatures now will still give us a normal crop. This will mostly be true for next week, then we go downhill fast.

Ohio shows officially no beans planted, and had 28 percent of the crop in this time last year, with a 17 percent average.

Market reaction

While this planting delay has dominated coffee shop talk, the markets have actually been mostly lower.

July corn futures were nearly a dollar off the high Friday, at 6.81 versus the April 26 high of 7.77 1/4. December futures were off almost 50 cents. November soybeans were as low as 12.91 1/4 Friday, most of a dollar off the late April high at 13.83 1/2.

About the Author

Marlin Clark trades producer and elevator grain from an office near Andover, Ohio for Town & Country Co-op. You can reach him for comment at 440-293-4055. More Stories by Marlin Clark

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