Just got word today that the wheat harvest is going great guns in Oklahoma. Unfortunately, the quality isn’t very good and they are having a hard time finding buyers for it. The bad part about wheat is that there are tests for many different quality factors. Like many products, buyers will pay a premium for the best stuff. Last year, we had poor protein, and the market discounted the wheat about $1 per bushel. Oklahoma is suffering the same fate this year. The poor guys, they got froze out two years in a row and this year they have a crop that nobody wants. Hopefully, the quality improves as harvest goes north or we will have real problems trying to sell this stuff.
Monthly Archives: June 2010
One thing most people don’t realize is how the world markets affect a farmers life. A quick look at this weeks Pro Farmer newsletter shows that a farmer has to look at crude futures, the value of the dollar, the price of gold, the Greek debt crisis, the financials, the price of gold relative to the price of corn, the list goes on and oh yeah, how about the price of wheat, corn and soybeans.
Many farmers don’t even realize how much the outside markets influence our life. Back in the day, fundamentals of a crop ruled the world. If spring wheat was short, the Minneapolis Grain Exchange price would reflect that fact. Maybe you would have to look at the yields in other states but certainly you didn’t have to look outside of the country to decide what might happen to the price. OK, maybe you could consider Canada. Most recently, the wheat crop in the Ukraine has had as much to do with the price of wheat as what happens in Minnesota. We also have to take into consideration what the crop quality is like. The futures price is only a suggestion of what the farmer gets in his pocket. Now, the European economy influences the price of oil, the price of oil influences the value of the dollar, which influences the value of gold, which, some say, influences the price of corn, which influences the price of wheat in Hallock. Oh, for the good old days, when a bushel of wheat was a bushel of wheat.
Last week we had a combined total of 7” of rain. That’s an amount some farmers get in a year. Around here it’s about half of the growing season total in an average year. Thankfully, my dad’s philosophy was to ditch like its never going to stop raining. We still stick with that philosophy as do most of the farmers in the valley. We spend a lot of time and money on our drainage, plants won’t grow if they are under water. To some degree, we are our own worst enemy, the more we ditch, the faster the water leaves the field, the faster it gets to the river and the higher the river rises and floods. But what do you do? We strive to get the most out of every acre, just like any business striving to make the most out of every square foot of retail space.
We’ve spent most of this week on the ATV with the trench wheels. It can be a fun job, tearing through the mud, but the fun is gone. I’ve been stuck twice, both ATV’s have to go to the shop to be fixed, basically its a pain now, but it has to be done. The faster the water leaves the field, the sooner we’ll get back in.
We have heavy black soil. It retains water very well. We don’t need the frequent rains that sandier soils need. As things are now, we need a lot of dry, cool weather for our crops to recover. To much heat now, with the plants already stressed because of excess water, would be very bad. I think we can already count on some yield reduction. The forecast is a 60% chance for rain tomorrow. Hopefully it misses us. I’ll keep posting pictures of what happens.
Farming is a life of ebbs and flows, you take what you get and learn to adjust to what you are given. Last week we got 2 inches of rain on Monday and Tuesday. This is not an unmanageable amount but it is more than you would like to see. The problem around here is that rain doesn’t come in waves it comes in tsunamis. From Friday through early Sunday morning we got another 4 inches of rain. Pembina, ND just 10 miles from our farm had 7. So our early spring and good start to the farming year has taken a dramatic turn as it is hard for crops to grow if they are under water. There won’t be much activity, other than checking pumps and watching the water drain away, for the next several days. First, we’ll hope for no rain so the water will drain away and we’ll hope for cool temps so we don’t bake the already stressed plants.
As my neighbor reminded me, regardless of how things turn out, we’ll eat this winter. There is nothing we can do about the weather. That makes farming unique from most other businesses that can control all there inputs and factors that affect a business.