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CLAYTON RYE

By Staff | Oct 9, 2009

Harvest has certainly not gotten off to the kind of a start we usually have. Where are the blue skies? Where are the warm days? Most importantly, where is the dry weather?

Each day we sit still is like a loud, nearly deafening tick of the clock notifying us of another lost day when everyday counts between now and freezing. We can draw some comfort in our good-sized equipment that lets us cover lots of ground once conditions are cooperative.

However, that is part of the frustration. Here we have tractors, combines, trucks, high capacity driers, everything that is up to the job, able to work long days in comfort all sitting idle. Whether you have the latest GPS equipped, 40-foot head combine with a grain tank that can fill a semi in two dumps or a 30-year old combine with a 20-foot head that you hope the heater works, they are both sitting still.

Weather is the great equalizer.

We contend with wet conditions in spring when we are anxious to get started. In the spring we have the advantage of lengthening days with more sun offering a better chance of dry conditions. Wet weather in the fall complicates everything as the days have gotten measurably shorter.

It is taking longer for dry conditions to appear once the rain has quit. The sun sits lower in the sky and has lost much of its heat and the ability to dry. Dampness, that condition between wet and dry, lasts longer and seems to bully us with its attitude of maybe you can and maybe you can’t.

We are powerless in front of the bully so we sit and take it. We grumble as we acknowledge our helplessness. With most problems, we look at the situation and find a solution. The last step in the solution is the question, “How much is this going to cost me?”

The answer is, “You do not have enough money.” We can not buy dry weather. Somebody might be working on an alternative though.

Maybe there will be a day when our fields will have overhead structures that support tillage, planting, spraying, and harvesting equipment. There will be no wheeled tractors or implements.

A machine resembling a field cultivator or a planter will be suspended from this overhead framework and will cover the field in total automation. Spraying and harvesting will be done in the same way. We may even be able to control the amount of rain reaching the crop eliminating the problem of flooding.

A few people will be able to farm thousands of acres this way as computers decide fertilizer rates, planting dates, adding water in dry conditions and deflecting rain when there is too much.

All this will be done with only the minimum amount of ground contact eliminating soil compaction. Everything will have monitors in the event of a breakdown that notifies the computer operator where and what the problem is.

In between times, there will be a group of farmers who get together and talk about the good old days when you had to wait for dry conditions before you could plant or harvest.

They will reminisce about the pleasure of sitting in a cab with a steering wheel watching the ground go by underneath them. They will conclude farming is not what it used to be, some of the fun is gone.

Maybe this damp weather is not so bad after all. Naaah, give me some sun.

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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