I was recently asked about how the spring has been to farmers. If there is anything constant in farming, is that farmers love to talk about the weather and the weather is never what they want. In my opinion, there are two sides to every coin.
The Bad Side of the Wet Spring
The very wet spring has created many challenges for farmers. Currently, nationwide only 67% of the corn crop is planted. Last year at this time it was 96%. It doesn't take an economist to predict the future there - supply will be short and prices will be high, driving up the price of meat, dairy, and eggs this fall. For our specialty crop (produce and fruit) farmers, it has created challenges getting produce in the field. Even for items that are in the fields, such as strawberries planted last year (for this spring's harvest), the wet conditions have brought on issues with a variety of molds and fungi ranging from blight to leaf spot and fruit rot. For organic farmers this spring, most were caught off guard and lost a big portion of their crop. I was just reading a trade publication that showed the success of treating these conditions with steam - but that requires a costly investment in equipment to create and deliver steam in the field!
The Good Side of the Wet Spring
On the flip side, the spring rains are filling irrigation ponds and the water table, and most importantly to me as a grass based farmer grazing beef and poultry, it helps the pastures grow back quickly. Our beef are eating well right now and I'm actually struggling to get them to eat everything fast enough! By August, I will likely be doing a rain dance!
And David the Amish Superman
And on the charming side, we have been caught countless times this spring in pop-up thunderstorms or showers. I, showing my lack of experience, come back with soggy boots and soaked to the underbritches. David, my lead farm-hand, is kind of like an Amish Superman. Yes, he's well versed in farm chores, working the land, and has an amazing knack for finding arrowheads, but he also seems to always be ready for the rain. Last week, we got almost 5 inches in two days. One afternoon David was out feeding broilers far from the barn. The storms rolled in and I made a sprint to the brooder house to stay dry. An hour later I went in for lunch and it was still raining. David wasn't yet in the barn so I started to eat. I heard the tractor coming and over the hill here he came, head to toe in rain gear and dry as can be. Like superman in a phone booth, David quickly slipped inside one of the chicken tractors (mobile shelters for broilers) and changed into his rain gear just in time to stay dry.