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CLAYTON RYE

By Staff | Jul 9, 2013

Around 1968 a movie was popular with the title of “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.”

I had never heard that phrase before 1968 so as far as I know it was created for the purpose of being used only as a movie title.

Since then, however, that phrase gets used whenever someone wants to describe something, be it an event or people or anything else that is bad.

That phrase became one of my thoughts a few days ago when looking over the state of our crops.

There are some crops that can be described as good. They were planted in late April just before the snowstorm in May of all months.

Those few April acres are growing nicely and for this year are the best looking acres anyone will see. It is too bad there aren’t more of them.

Then we have the bad. It is those crops planted when we had a few good days around mid-May when field conditions allowed planting to be done.

At first appearance they look good and the recent warm weather has given those fields a badly needed boost.

The color has improved and as long as a person does not look at the drowned out spots, it is enough to make a person think that there will be a crop after all.

That is until you realize that these crops would look if it was mid-June, not almost mid-July. Most years I remember corn by mid-July was over waist high and sometimes shoulder high.

That is not happening this year. This is where the USDA and I disagree. They can talk about their good-to-excellent ratings all they want. As far as I am concerned their ratings are a month behind.

The first frost date will determine if most of this crop can be saved. We need a late fall to compensate for our late spring.

It can happen. I believe in 2004 we had a cool, wet year and development was delayed. Then the most perfect September arrived and what could have been very bad became very good.

That was a chance, a very fortunate event. It is not something I like to depend upon because those circumstances are rare.

A mid-October, or later, frost would be our salvation. As long as we are using movies to illustrate our examples, a late frost would be the equivalent of our hero riding in to save our damsel in distress from a certain doom.

However, reality (what is missing in movies) tells me, “Don’t depend on it.”

We have covered the good and the bad, now to the ugly.

A field that has no crop growing in it is ugly. It is something I thought was not possible.

I look out the south windows of my home onto one of our unplanted fields.

The weeds are doing nicely. A pass with a field cultivator eliminated most of them and oats will be seeded there in a few days to hold back the weeds and provide a root system to hold the soil in place until next spring.

There won’t be a harvest, but it will mean the field will be green rather than brown.

Then there is a field that is good, bad, and ugly all at the same time.

It is a field that, due to erodibilty, grows continuous corn.

It is ugly because it is unplanted and will stay that way for this year.

It is bad because the only crop growing there now is volunteer corn from last year.

It is good because the volunteer corn has been growing since it was able to and is actually the tallest corn we have.

Big deal.

So far this crop year is like a trip to a movie. We don’t know how it will end and have to stay to find out, hoping for a happy ending.

Maybe a bowl of popcorn would make me feel better.

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

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