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CLAYTON RYE

By Staff | Nov 30, 2012

It is five months until planting which makes it a ways off but, I bet, I am not the only one who is getting a little nervous about next spring’s planting conditions.

Watching The Dust Bowl on PBS last week didn’t help. I don’t think we will have a repeat of the Dust Bowl, but that was the result of a long drought.

We have been suffering under the Dry Spell That Won’t Go Away for about a year and a half.

Seeing grass growing in creek beds and river banks that are no longer muddy is a sign of how dry and how serious this is.

The news reported that the lack of rain is causing problems for barges on the Mississippi River below St. Louis because of reduced water flow from the Missouri River. What is happening?

The other side of this drought is a winter that has not snowed, at least not yet. Actually, a snow-free winter has a nice sound to it.

I remember the winters of two and three years ago that were notable for being cold with lots of snow. Those days we were snowed in and could not go anywhere had a pleasantness about them as we hunkered down to wait things out until the snowplow went by.

Last year’s winter with a very small amount of snow was pleasant, and I did not take it as a sign of a serious drought.

Today, I have different thoughts.

A white Christmas has an especially good sound to it this year, and if we get snowed in, all the better.

A couple of blizzards with having to use the snow blower to clear the driveway could mean the worst is behind us and we will start working our way back to normal.

I can’t believe I just wished for a couple of blizzards. I am getting desperate.

Watching the grain prices is more entertaining and full of drama than anything on television.

Now the grain market, there is your ultimate reality show.

Here we have very high grain prices, and I did not think we could have a weather market in the winter, but we do as U.S. winter wheat is struggling and this dry weather is felt in South America, too.

The question is how much of last year’s crop should I hold back as insurance to sell into next year’s possible reduced crop?

The other possibility is that once the market senses the dry spell has ended, to go with our huge sigh of relief, we can watch the prices drop faster than the water over Niagara Falls.

Then we can kick ourselves for not selling that grain we held back when prices were high.

We will be grumbling all the way to the delivery point.

When we look at the check we receive, we will be reminded of how much better it would have been if we had sold earlier when we had the chance.

We will still be grumbling standing at the teller’s window when we deposit the check at the bank.

There is your choice – dry weather with a small crop and high prices, or closer-to-normal weather with normal yields and prices reduced by dollars per bushel.

As I said, this is the ultimate reality show. Spring is coming, make your plans.

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

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