Thursday, August 19, 2010

Controlling the Uncontrolable

This week has been kind of frustrating. Actually the past three weeks have been pretty frustrating. 100 degree temperatures and no rain tend to make life frustrating to a farmer. But as my Dad says, "there is nothing you can do about the weather so why worry about it".

Waiting,hoping and watching the weather are a big part of agriculture. This year the crops got off to a slow start because of all the rain and cool temperatures. Now, just a couple of months later they are rapidly maturing because of hot temps and dry conditions. Why is this a problem. Soybeans are indeterminate meaning that they will keep blooming, adding pods and ultimately more soybeans as long as they have good growing conditions and moisture.

More beans mean more bushels to sell and more money. The soybeans we sell are our paycheck for the year (after we take out our expenses) and the money we have to live on and plant a crop for the next year. So a short growing season means a smaller paycheck for the farmer. in agriculture we live on a very small margine. Do you see my stress here?

Despite the fact that we have done everything right by planting on time, controlling weeds and utilizing the best management practices our yields are hurt by something we cannot control, weather. But there is hope for those of us in growing regions that can become arid and it is in the form of new technology.

New technology in soybeans? Yes, the seed companies (you know like the dreaded Monsanto) are coming out with drought resistant soybeans and corn. These varieties will yield more with less water, thus insuring a more secure food supply. Did you hear me. Monsanto is working on crops that will make our farmers more productive and increase the food supply. Doesn't sound like an evil empire to me and gmo crops that will save lives by growing more food. The fact is that we need modern technology to produce a growing population on fewer acres of farmland.

I can tell you that I think anything that will make me sleep better in July and August and spend less time on the Weather Channel website is a blessing. I say keep up the good work Monsanto and keep that new technology coming. In the meantime I will try to listen to my Dad and not worry about things I cannot control.


  1. Thanks for the kind words Glenn! I spent part of the week on the Northern High Plains of Texas and I can tell you drought technologies could really make a difference there, though this year they've gotten good rain that doesn't bode well for the next few.