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What Will the New Year Hold for Crops?


Possibly the greatest writer to be found in the pages of the great book was an old doctor named Luke. One of my favorite quotes from him is “No one having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” I like this quote because it makes a point that misgivings are counterproductive, and it relates life to people who work the land.

But if there was ever a year when it was tempting to look back and see just how in the world we got through it this has to be one. Farmers made good crops and in some cases the best yields of cotton and soybeans we have seen lately. The corn and peanuts were nothing to write home about but compared to yields we were making little more than a decade ago even these two crops were good. It all depends on how you look at it.

As I think I have related before, people can always find something to complain about like the farmer I once knew who was known for his great successes through the years. However, he would always find something negative to say about almost everything. One morning at the coffee shop he arrived later than usual and someone said “wonder what he will say went wrong this year when we all know he made the best crop he has made in years”?

When Mr. Negative, as I will refer to him, came in no one said anything in anticipation of his comment. The table was quiet for what seemed like an hour, then he came out with it, “I just don’t know how we are going to pay for all the fertilizer we will have to buy to replace what we took out of the land this year.” Sure enough, he had not let us down, and had lived up to his reputation.

The comments from Mr. Negative this year could include this same one he made that morning. We have removed a lot of fertilizer nutrients from the land this year and we have not replaced a lot of what we have removed for several years.

Plus, when we make high yields as we have this year the market responds negatively and prices fall. The result is the same as usual that the farmer rarely gets an opportunity to hit that home run that is needed to get past the debt hump that seems to always be there.

The trick, if there is one, is to make the high yields with a minimum of wasted energy or non-justified expense. Only a few people I know have been able to do this consistently, but if there is a goal farmers should strive for in 2017 it should be to maximize production without wasted energy, labor, fertilizers, seed, etc. Maybe that way there will be some profit left over at the end of the “rainbow”.

The idea right now is to go forward without wasting the time and energy that would be expended in looking back in regret for something that was done but shouldn’t have been or something that was not done that should have been. I am writing this on New Year’s Eve so in one sense it will be another year before any of you may read this unless you have so little to do tonight that you sit and gaze into the screen of your computer.

We have survived a lot more than just one year, rather we have survived one of the most turbulent periods our nation has experienced since the founding. Hopefully this will be to our country something like the effect of pruning a fruit tree.

If this happens we may be in for the best and most productive times of our lives. But if we have over-pruned this tree it could take a while to recover. Only time will tell. The one thing I am certain of is that we need to get back to harvesting all the fruit ourselves rather than allowing it to be wasted.

Source: Ernie Flint, Mississippi State University 

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