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CLAYTON RYE

By Staff | May 23, 2012

Planting for the crop year is nearing completion, and it is time to get ready for the next task.

The corn has just made its appearance, and the weeds are right behind. Let’s get the rotary hoe out of the shed to get those beginning weeds and break the crust on the field from the rain.

Oh wait, never mind. We haven’t used the rotary hoe for about 25 years. I guess it will sit in the shed for another.

Well, call some high school boys and put together a crew for baling hay. It is time to get that first cutting because it is almost ready.

Never mind, there is not that much hay anymore and it is done with big bales, both round and square. It takes a tractor or good skid loader just to pick up one bale. One person can do the baling and storing.

Which tractor should we put on the cultivator? Those rear mounts are sure an improvement over the front mounts. They are bigger and we can sit in a cab with an air conditioner running.

Cancel that. The cultivator has not been used in more than 20 years.

Roundup Ready crops did a better job of weed control and are way more convenient. It can sit next to the rotary hoe for another year.

Well, how about getting the combine ready for oat harvest and then baling the straw? Oh, that’s right. Does anybody raise oats anymore?

Summers are sure not what they used to be. Hoeing, haying, cultivating and combining oats are more liable to be seen at a power show recreating the past than being done on an actual farm.

In all honesty, I can not say I miss any of them. They represented a fair amount of manual labor in baling the hay and straw. Cultivating could be boring.

What changed?

Improved herbicides for one, and fewer farms with livestock for another. Hay and straw bales are feed and bedding.

Big bales and the large equipment to handle them finished off the baling industry we knew that disappeared miore than 30 years ago.

Just think, about the time my 35-year-old son was in kindergarten these jobs were starting to disappear. He would remember seeing these jobs being done, but just barely.

I heard on a farm show recently that cultivating could return because of herbicide-resistant weeds. I have my doubts about that because I am sure the next improvements in herbicides are being readied and will be released when Roundup loses its ability to be effective.

Besides, what cultivator can compete with a 90-foot sprayer boom?

You have to know that bigger sprayer booms are being readied as well.

My son has been in charge of seed, fertilizer, spraying and planting this year as he was last year. He and our neighbor are working together sharing machinery.

Two four-wheel drive tractors are field cultivating at a rate of 80 acres an hour, trying to stay ahead of the 24-row planter. They make it look easy.

So far this year, I was called to take a loader out to the field to get a rock that was too big for one person to pick up.

I am about to finish reading my second book this month as I wait for my phone to ring with my next assignment.

It is beginning to look like I have a future along side the rotary hoe, cultivator and the baler that makes small square bales as equipment that has outlived its usefulness.

Maybe we can form a support group.

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

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