Compromise is a way of life

Farm Forum

As the light each day becomes shorter, harvest frenzy increases.

From fields of brown stubble this spring, green plants emerged across the area. As the stalks grew skyward, moisture and nutrients filled out pods and ears and alfalfa stems. As the season progresses, plants have finished their growing cycles, and ag producers race across fields before weather conditions turn nasty.

Last year, many in the state struggled with drought conditions. This year, as rain fell across areas, crops looked good. In August, a dry spell hit our area and brought down crop estimates and the hopes of farmers. As producer reports indicate, the yield of soybean plants can vary by the amount of moisture and when it is received. According to Purdue University, there are some examples of how to figure yield per acre.

In a year with good soybean growth, good pod retention, and adequate late season moisture:

400 pods x 2.5 seeds per pod divided by seed size 18 = 55.5 bu./acre.

In a year with good early soybean growth, fair pod retention, but little late season moisture:

300 pods x 2.5 seeds per pod divided by seed size 21 = 35.7 bu/acre.

And in a year with fair soybean growth, limited pod retention, but good late season moisture:

350 pods x 2.5 seeds per pod divided by seed size 15 = 41.7 bu./acre.

One farmer noted that even though soybean pods and seeds are mature – turning harvest color and drying out – recent rains have left the stems green, making it hard for combines to chew through fields. A hard freeze within the next week could take care of that.

Looking at the corn ears in our field this fall, our yields will be down. Some of the ears didn’t fill all of the way because of the lack of moisture. Some producers have had hail damage. Our farm has had some wind damage. There is concern about ear droppage before the combines roll through the field. Some are taking out corn at high moisture to avoid the risk of losing ears.

Here’s an interesting tidbit: A typical ear of corn will have 800 kernels, according to corn experts. The accepted standard for a bushel of corn is now measured in weight: 56 pounds. That’s for shelled corn (after the husks and cobs are removed). It is about the size of a large bag of dog food.

Now is the time for compromise

As grain producers finish up their year, livestock people are moving cattle from pasture, weaning calves and moving supplies in preparation for winter. There is no time to say, “We’ll shut down.”

Most in agriculture are staunchly independent. But sometimes compromise is needed. If a cow runs towards you, and it comes down to serious injury or having her run through the fence, it may be a forced compromise.

And if you’re combining and the tractor running the grain cart breaks down, you may use an old truck or borrow a tractor to get the job done. It’s not what was planned, but you do what you have to do to get things done. We don’t live in a perfect world. Some give-and-take is what life is all about.

We have elected people to make decisions in Congress. In my mind, part of the world of politics involves compromise. Millions of people are affected by the government shutdown, but not the people called on to step up and to make decisions.

Ag producers understand that our work cannot be shut down. If we were compared to government workers, we are essential in providing food and fiber. Only 4.6 million of us live on farms and ranches – slightly less than 2 percent of the total population. Consumers spend $547 billion for food originating on U.S. farms and ranches. Of each dollar spent on food, the farmer’s share is approximately 23 cents.

For now, agriculture and the farm bill are on the back burner. Congress needs to sort out issues and more forward for the good of the country. A sign like this really is a travesty: “Due to the lapse in federal government funding, this website is not available. We sincerely regret this inconvenience.”