I was visiting on the phone with my son, Mr. Fencerow to Fencerow. He was expressing his impatience with the slow start of spring field work due to cool weather and damp conditions.
It is the second week of April and not a wheel has turned here when in several recent years, tillage has moved along by now with an eye towards when planting will begin.
His main concern was he wanted to apply anhydrous ammonia as soon as he could. This was a problem because in recent years he has applied all the ammonia in the fall. No ammonia was applied last fall because of (guess what) wet conditions.
I could understand his impatience because, in his mind, in the second week of April he is already way behind.
I tried offering some consolation by telling him that when I was doing the planting I only applied ammonia in the spring. I didn’t like the idea of losing some of the ammonia as it overwinters.
To me spring applied had a better chance of one hundred percent of it going where it was supposed to go to the roots of those corn plants.
After we hung up I remembered I had prefaced my comments with, “Long ago, when I was in charge”
What did I say? Was it that long ago? Am I that antiquey?
Maybe I am. That was a time when I thought I was pushing things if I started corn planting before April 25. Now he is nearing the end of corn planting by April 25.
I did step up the pace in later years when I planted one year on April 23 and that seemed to work.
Another year I started planting on April 18 with around one hundred acres in the ground when the cold weather returned. About two weeks later, part of the field had emerged with a good, but not great, stand with the rest of the field hardly emerged.
Fortunately, the field was planted with two different varieties from two competitors. When the seed company with very poor emergence wanted to blame me for planting too early, I pointed to their competitor’s corn only a few feet away that was looking good.
They replaced their seed and that part of the field was replanted two weeks after the first time.
After that I decided the last week of April was soon enough.
Years later, genetics have improved the cold tolerance of seed and larger equipment makes it so easy that once things are under way, who wants to quit?
It’s quite a change from the time before I was in charge and my uncle decided the timing of everything. That was when we had an eight row Cyclo-planter (remember them?) pulled by a John Deere 4020 with no cab. Yes, no cab.
There was one cold day in early May I planted corn wearing gloves, my insulated coveralls and hooded coat along with my five-bucklers because the cold wind kept blowing up my pants legs.
You know, that was over 35 years ago. And around 50-60 bushels less of corn per acre.
And way back then we got the crop planted every year and the crop will be planted again this year.
Thirty-five years from now, Mr. Fencerow to Fencerow will think back to this time and remember what he put up with at planting time.
As we have heard many times before, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at email@example.com.