When a movie or live performance is lengthy, an intermission is inserted in the program to stretch, move, and do something about that last cup of coffee we had earlier and were beginning to regret.
I like to believe that at this time of year we have our own intermission in the crop year.
This is the time between planting and harvest when we have done everything we can to maximize our yields, knowing that we will soon be harvesting our best efforts.
During intermission of a movie or play, we will stay to find out how it ends.
Everyone wants a happy ending and we hope that is what the author, playwright or composer has written.
As creator, they have the sole power of determining the ending.
However, a crop year is not that simple as any farmer knows. There are many variables – some in our control, others not – from the time machinery is readied for planting to when the last acres are harvested.
Most movies and plays are works of fiction, while food production exists in reality. But that does not stop us from hoping for a happy ending.
We have our edge-of-the-seat moments through the year when dark clouds appear with strong winds and we watch in wonder, mixed with some fear, that possible damage by flooding or hail is only minutes away.
We can repair machinery, buy the best seed and fertilizer for the money, spray for weeds and pests, try to pick rallies in the market to sell, but there are many other things we have to watch as bystanders and hope for the best.
Besides being helpless about the weather that can be our friend or foe, there are the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that can make a market jump in either direction in mere minutes, creating opportunities or apprehension. We have seen both this summer.
The crop year can be like the roller coaster ride that climbs to heights and then plunges before bottoming with twists and curves for excitement.
Farmers ride in the front car, but behind them are machinery dealers, seed and fertilizer suppliers, elevators, lenders, anyone with an interest in production agriculture.
Just before harvest, I enjoy taking in all that is around me from the late-summer wildflowers now blooming to the fresh produce available in grocery stores and farmer’s markets to the acres of ripening crops in every direction.
We have been sampling our home-grown potatoes since early July; digging up a few spuds for an approaching meal is its own reward.
This is the time we notice the sun’s movement south can be measured from its northern high point last June 21. It is rising a little later and setting a little earlier as well.
It may be August, but there can be mornings when the slight chill in the air reminds us that school will be starting soon followed by thoughts of football games and keeping a jacket handy.
If you have a trip in mind, there is not much time left to take it.
Once intermission is finished we will return to determine how this crop year ends.
We will learn if we sold too much grain ahead of harvest or not enough.
Did the first frost date have an effect on the yield?
How effective was our weed control program?
What needs to be done to do a better job next year?
It’s a story in need of an ending. We are hoping for a happy ending.
Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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