Spring planting reminds that farming is an uncertain venture

It’s spring and time for tilling the ground and getting crops planted. In the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s, Trumbull County was a dairy county with dairy farms up and down every road. Today, you have to look quick to find a cow. Recently, we had another good-sized herd of high-producing cows sell out bringing our number down one more.

We are now considered a grain-growing county. Recent figures show that we plant about 13,000 acres of corn each year in the county. That corn will yield from 300,000 to 350,000 bushels.

Soybeans are another important crop. Somewhere around 27,500 acres, more or less, can be planted with total yields of about 1.3 million bushels. Quite a few acres of food-grade soybeans are grown for export to Japan. They are a special variety that are harvested separately from regular beans. They are brought in, cleaned and bagged, put on pallets and shipped directly to Japan.

We also grow limited acres of oats and wheat. A few oats have already been planted because they like cooler and wetter growing conditions than corn or beans.

Prices for lime and fertilizer have gone up sharply this spring. This means it is going to be more expensive to get crops planted. Centerra Co-op in Andover expects to have its new storage and blending plant in operation by early April, which will make supplies readily available

Overall, we have 123,000 acres in farms with about 75,000 acres of crop land. We do grow a considerable amount of hay for sale, but, because of weather conditions to harvest good hay, it can be an uncertain crop. When it is grown for sale, the quality needs to be good and that can be difficult in our northeastern Ohio weather.

When we think about all the acres of corn and beans to be planted, we recognize that it will take considerable time. So farmers like to get started as soon as soils are warm and dry. It hasn’t been warm enough to get the seed in the ground. As of early April, very little if any corn had been planted. Reports say that considerable acres of lime and fertilizer had been spread ready to plant.

Now we need a season with plenty of sunshine and moisture to bring the crops along. Predictions are for drought conditions in some parts of the country but normal rainfall in northeastern Ohio. Time will tell what we get.

Farmers now wait and wonder what prices will be like this fall at harvest time. They will have to decide to sell from the combine or hold and store them hoping for a better price.

Prices of both corn and soybeans have been good this spring and there were some predictions that come acres usually planted to corn would be switched to soybean because of a better price for beans. I don’t know if that happened locally.

China has been a major but uncertain buyer for some of our crops. They bought three shiploads of soybeans recently, which is more than they bought in all of last year. They may say they are going to buy more, then back out of the deal.

Good fall harvest weather is also important. Farmers don’t like harvesting in the mud and bad weather can delay the entire season. Any profit that is to be made depends on getting crops harvested.

As you can see farming is an uncertain business. Poor prices and too many hours caused the demise of dairy farming. But grain farming also has its ups and downs. There can be good years with good prices and then poor crop years or poor prices some years. It is a gamble but farmers seem to enjoy what they do.

Parker is an independent writer for Farm Bureau and other organizations.


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