The spring planting season is almost complete as we post this on June 1. For the week ending May 29th the USDA reported corn planting at 99%, 97%, and 93% compete in Illinois, Iowa, and Indiana, respectively, and 78%, 76%, and 74% complete for soybeans. Soybean planting increased significantly the last week of May, especially in Illinois.
The planting season in Central Illinois and in North Central Iowa where we manage large blocks of farmland, was basically divided into two seasons. We were able to get our corn planted during the early season, in last two weeks of April, which we consider to be the optimal time. Soil conditions were near ideal and we have excellent stands.
Then cool and wet weather kept us out of the field for a couple of weeks during early May, but the soybeans that have been planted during the past week are emerging quickly and getting off to a great start. Ideally we would like to have been planting soybeans in late April and early May, but we are still within the optimal time period for good soybean yields this fall.
The biggest struggle during the 2016 planting season has been the weather… which is the case every year. Trying to get the crops planted between rain events. And its popular today to blame climate change for, seemingly, greater volatility in weather patterns in recent years.
We read an interesting article by Jeff DeYoung in the May 21, 2016 issue of Illinois Farmer Today that agrees that moisture patterns have indeed changed, but that the changes began sixty years ago in the 1950’s.
The article reports that much of the “extreme” weather that is talked about today is a result of “more attention being given to severe weather” than it used to get. “With the media attention to weather, everything is being reported.”
Iowa State Climatologist Harry Hillaker says that “moisture patterns have changed over the past few decades… and that it’s been going on for quite some time, as far back as the early to mid-50’s”
As interesting as it is to discuss weather patterns and try to predict climate change and its possible implications… the reality is that every year weather affects a landowner’s bottom line more than anything else. Because weather affects production. Production affects supply. Supply affects commodity prices. And production and prices determine net income, whether directly through crop-share or custom leases or indirectly through cash rent leases that reflect the farm economy.
Ultimately, good farm management and partnering with capable and attentive growers mitigates the production risk caused by weather, reducing the potential income volatility of weather cycles.