Wild planting season ahead

The midwest finally broke its cold spell this week, and with the warm-up it's no doubt farmers will be moving full speed ahead. Farmers usually get a little wild-eyed this time of year, but think about what's on their mind now — late spring, more corn to plant than ever before, and potential shortages in fertilizer and seed.


Time to put in the hurry-up offense. This spring is going to be a wild one.


Wayne Johnson (left) is one of those farmers. He's planting about 15% more corn than 2006. This farmer from North Central Iowa normally raises 4,300 acres of corn and soybeans but he's planting 15% more corn this year than in 2006. He also shares equipment between four operations and was a featured speaker at our 2006 Farm Futures Management Summit.


"We're getting a late start to spring work so several projects will be put on hold,•bCrLf he told me. "Most of us have trees to trim, tile to fix, rocks to pick up, waterways to seed, yards to clean up, and that's usually before the field cultivator and planter goes to the field. I prefer a spring where we can get these other projects cleaned up so our focus can be on just a couple tasks at hand - not so this year.•bCrLf


More stress. Choices will need to be made, says Johnson. It adds to the pressure of spring planting. "When I have more than six projects on my plate I start to feel under pressure, so I'm expecting more stress this spring,•bCrLf he says. "My wife usually has some words of wisdom for me in these circumstances. I can almost hear her saying, "Wayne this will all be over within five weeks.•bCrLf


Shortages of seed and fertilizer are a reality, says Johnson, but the shortage is more in the area of getting exactly the varieties ordered and the seed sizes — nothing major. "There is fertilizer and seed but we have to decide again what is available and what will work well on my farm,•bCrLf he says. "Elevators are starting to get nervous about getting their equipment over the acres in a timely manner. I just spoke with mine yesterday and that was the very issue we talked about.•bCrLf


For all the pressure, Johnson is feeling pretty thankful these days. He spent time in Nigeria and Ghana, two African countries so poor they are still planting their 5-acre corn farms by hand and shooting for 10 bushel per acre, "and that's what they have to eat for the year,•bCrLf he adds.


"What do I have to be excited about? Just about everything I can see and touch around me makes me thankful. Ethanol plants and feed mills need my corn and more uses everyday are being found for soybeans including bio-diesel for soyoil. I have a line of equipment that my grandfather would be amazed at to get my work done with and employees and neighbors I enjoy working with. All I need to do is focus on the big picture as I manage and work on the day to day.•bCrLf


Sounds like a good attitude to take to the fields for any farmer.


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