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CLAYTON RYE

By Staff | Apr 22, 2016

The USDA has begun its weekly report on planting progress. For those of us living in farm country, it only tells us what we already know. Planting goes fast.

I was listening to a market analyst a week ago when weather was threatening and it seemed like the market might move up a little in response to a possible planting delay.

The analyst said something to the effect that considering we can be 50 percent done in a week’s time, a weather delay doesn’t mean that much. How true.

I am still amazed at how quickly, easily, and almost effortlessly both planting and harvesting get done. Drive by a field one day and a day or so later, drive by the same field and it has been planted, if it’s spring; or harvested, if it’s fall. When did that happen?

But with most jobs, it isn’t doing the job that takes long; it is the preparation that leads up to the job that can be time-consuming. That part can takes weeks and even months if you think back to harvest.

I have seen my neighbors all around me preparing the ground, and then the planter appears and, within hours, it is done and away they go to the next field.

There was a time when planting was done between sunrise and sunset, but not anymore as a tractor equipped with auto steer doesn’t need daylight and maybe not a driver in years to come.

Big machinery and technology have made planting a lot different from what I remember when I used a tractor with no cab pulling an 8-row planter.

What I am working towards is that today my wife and I planted our potatoes, 183 hills of them.

In an age of hi-tech, we weren’t even using lo-tech, for us it was no-tech.

That tilling of the garden was done with a 10-horsepower lawn tractor from the early ’70s that had the newest innovation for that time – a hydrostatic transmission.

Once the ground was ready, I used six stakes to mark three rows and used a rope between the stakes to make a straight line.

I dragged a hoe as I followed the rope to create a trench where I would place the potatoes.

Then came the hard part when I had to get down on my hands and knees to put the cut up potatoes in the trench.

Then it was cover the three trenches, spread some fertilizer that claimed to have some weed killer mixed with it and the potatoes were planted.

And the weather man was predicting rain for the next few days. Let it rain.

Now my little potato patch does not compare to what my neighbors were doing in their fields.

What I can say is that my sense of satisfaction when I covered those last potatoes with that good black soil was probably as great as theirs when they see the last kernels go in the ground at the end of a field.

My potato garden is not important enough to have the USDA report to you on my planting progress so I will let you know I am 100 percent planted with my potatoes.

It was a very good day. Let it rain.

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

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