For many farmers in the United States, the start to the 2012 season was almost too good to be true. A mild winter and an early warm-up in March gave most Midwestern farmers, including DEKALB and Asgrow customers Jim Ryan of Viola, Ill., and Steve Becker of McLeansboro, Ill., and Lewis Hybrids customer Dave Hollenberg of Mexico, Mo., an opportunity to plant earlier than usual.
And then, the rain “shut off,” as Ryan said. Ryan and most farmers in the Midwest received very little rain during the critical parts of the growing season. The University of Nebraska’s Drought Monitor, updated weekly, tells the story in this graphic:
“Having gone through it in the ‘80s, I realized then I couldn’t do anything about it; I didn’t get bent out of shape,” Ryan said. “(You) always hope for the best. Compared to what some of our friends got, we are extremely fortunate right here.”
In mid-to-late August, some areas of the Midwest finally received rain. It was timed just right to benefit the soybean crop and give some of the corn crop a boost near the end of the season.
“With the soy crop as good as it’s been given these drought conditions, it makes me wonder just how good it could have been if we’d had regular rain during the summer,” Becker said.
“I was very pleased — most people were,” Hollenberg said. “It settled the dust around here, and it felt like we were able to still save some of the crop.”
Relying on Mother Nature is the biggest challenge of farming. She rarely gives farmers a “normal” year, despite their optimism for one. So while they are wrapping up an abnormal 2012, this group of farmers has already begun planning for 2013.
“We start our planning for the next growing season in mid-summer of the summer before,” Ryan said. “We try to put a very good plan together, and when spring comes, if it looks like our plan is the right one, we go with it.”
“My glass is always half full. I’m an optimistic guy, and I think everyone plans for getting the best yields you can,” Hollenberg said. “You go into (the season) with the best expectations and getting the highest yields.”
With recent challenging growing seasons, Ryan and Hollenberg point to improved genetics, biotechnology traits and better agronomic practices as three of the most important factors in trying to deliver consistent production for their farms.
“I think the genetics and trait packages definitely help,” Ryan said. “It seems like we are in an environment that the weather is a little bit like our markets — a little volatile. In 2008, ‘09, ‘10, it was a little too wet. In 2012, (it’s) definitely a little too dry. These new genetics get us through it.”
“If you had have the same type of seed now, you wouldn’t have had much (this year),” Hollenberg said, speaking about genetics that his dad used on the farm. “In 2005, it was a dry year for parts of our operation, and we had corn average 15 bushels to the acre on those parts. I think we’ve come 10-fold, if not more, than what we use to have.
“We’ve come a long way. I’m looking forward to and excited about what’s coming in the next 10 years.”
Individual results may vary, and performance may vary from location to location and from year to year. This result may not be an indicator of results you may obtain as local growing, soil and weather conditions may vary. Growers should evaluate data from multiple locations and years whenever possible.
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This article was originally posted on Monsanto.com.