Right now, about all area farmers can do with their crops is adopt a wait-and-see attitude.
Yes, they can make plans to get winter wheat planted sometime in September. But they can't do much with the thousands of acres of corn and soybeans growing toward maturity, or what they hope will be maturity.
Looking around the area, crops look reasonably good considering the late, wet, cool spring we had. Corn is tasseling, some very short while other fields look great. Since some corn had to be replanted because of wet, cold weather, there are fields that have plants in various stages of growth and maturity.
Soybeans look good, generally, but need a close inspection to see just where they are in stages of growth. Recent rains have been helpful to provide much needed moisture for the crops. Rain is critical right now.
Corn pollination may have been hurt because of the extreme heat we had in late July and early August. Ears will need to be checked to see if corn silks were pollinated and kernels formed. High heat has caused poor pollination in some cases, so farmers have to get out into the field to see what the crop really looks like.
What local farmers are hoping for is a long fall with no frost until late. That will allow both corn and beans to mature and give farmers a chance to get them harvested before winter weather comes howling along.
So there isn't much they can do about the weather but just wait and see.
One thing that is evident, given the just plain lousy spring, is the overall good quality of crops when the backward spring is considered. Area farmers have done a good job in spite of tough planting situations. Most fields are reasonably weed-free and have had a beautiful, green color. While it has been a bit dry, rains have come along at critical times to bring the crops along.
Now grain growers hope the market will stay strong and prices good enough to cover the very high planting costs they had and still leave enough for a reasonable family income.
There are hundreds of thousands of acres of excellent land in the Midwest that didn't get planted because of flooding from rains and by the Army engineers breaching levies. They did this to avoid flooding in towns down the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. Farmers suffered to save thousands of people in flood prone towns along the rivers.
Some of that farmland is still under water. No one seems to know for sure just how long before the flooded land can be farmed again. And compaction and soil structure may be damaged.
So there is much speculation about just how good the national corn and bean crops will be. National production affects prices in this area, as does production in South America.
If farmers stay in business - and farming is a business with more difficulties than most - they must make a profit. Some folks think that farming is a "way of life" and don't understand the need for farmers to make a profit. That "way of life" also has to be business-oriented or it doesn't lead to much of a life.
Another problem affecting farmers, along with dealing with the weather, is excessive government regulations.
According to Kevin Rogers, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, "The breadth and extent of the regulatory challenges facing American agriculture are tremendous. It is no exaggeration to say that the onslaught of federal regulations now confronting farmers and ranchers across America is truly overwhelming. These regulations make it tougher and tougher to make a living from the land."
So as summer moves into fall, let's hope that area farmers get a break and there is rain to help mature their crops and there is a late frost. And they could write their federal legislators and ask them to back off all the regulations!
Parker is an independent agricultural writer helping provide a voice for agriculture.