The Planted Row: It pays to follow the markets

Farm Forum

As I write this column, Aberdeen is under its first winter storm warning for the season. The National Weather Service is predicting 6-12 inches of snow from this storm. Last week we had mild temperatures and sunny days. The highs for this coming week are predicted to be in the teens and twenties. It seems like Mother Nature, over the course of 24 hours, decided that fall is finished and it is time for winter to begin.

I’m sure farmers are running their combines right now and will do so until the snow starts to fall. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you still working to get your harvest in the bin. Thank you for working right down to the wire, sometimes on very little sleep, so the rest of us can eat. I hope you’re able to finish your harvest before we have a foot of snow on the ground.

As we were driving home yesterday, my wife pointed out an unharvested corn field and wondered aloud why the farmer had let it wait so long before harvesting. I explained that in addition to a wet spring that had delayed planting, low commodity prices are leaving little room in the budget for using propane to dry down corn. It was to the farmer’s advantage to let the corn dry down as much as possible in the field. My wife acknowledged the point, and I’m taking this as a sign of slow progress toward my New Year’s resolution to be an advocate for agriculture in conversations with my New York bride.

The benefits of beef

Another of my New Year’s resolutions was to lose some of the extra weight I had packed on over the course of the last year. Like most members of my family, I love good food, but lately I had been using food for more than just sustenance. I have used it to combat stress and boredom, and I have used it to make up for the fact that I was getting too little sleep.

Well, I procrastinated on this resolution for most of the year, but in mid-August I figured I didn’t have many more dieting days left until Christmas, so I got to work. I should reach my goal in a couple of weeks, just in time for Thanksgiving.

I’m ashamed to admit exactly how many pounds I had to lose, but it was enough that I am often asked the secret to my diet. My secret is that I’ve been mimicking the recent commodity markets. In the markets and in my personal life, grain is going down and beef is going up. I’m consuming less non-fiber carbohydrates and more protein. As a result, the weight is falling off.

In a recent study reported in the New York Times (, people who followed a low-carbohydrate diet and consumed more fats lost more weight and were at a lower risk for cardiovascular disease than people who followed a more traditional low-fat diet. That’s good news for the beef the industry. Cattle producers have known about the health benefits of their product for a long time, but it’s nice to know the rest of the world is learning that there’s nothing wrong with running your corn through a cow before you consume it.

Ag Appreciation Banquet

On Nov. 14, the day this paper is published, the Aberdeen Area Chamber of Commerce Ag Committee will host its annual Ag Appreciation Banquet. This is a great opportunity to meet with other producers, get a great meal, honor our Farm Family of the Year, and have a lot of fun. This year, the Abbey Road Band, a Beatles tribute band, will provide the entertainment. The banquet starts at 6:30 p.m., so if you’re in the area, I hope you decide to come out and join us. If you see me walking around, feel free to come over and introduce yourself. I love to meet Farm Forum readers.