What is Normal

Gary Quam, Agronomy Sales, St Charles (218) 689-0947

Looking back at the winter that we have had so far, I am positive that no one is going to argue with me that it was far from a “normal” winter.  I am comfortable in saying all-in-all it has been pretty mild.  The temperatures have not been bitterly cold and we did not get an overabundance of snow.  However, we continued to have surprises including the 60 degree weather in February followed by a foot of snow a couple days later.

So, has this been a “normal” year?  When I look back at the last five years and try to come up with a definition of “normal,” I cannot come up with an answer.  There has been extremes on both sides.  The five year history shows a spring so wet that fields were never planted along with a spring where most of the acres in our area being planted before May 1st. The growing seasons don’t not reflect extreme heat or moisture.  The past couple summers have not had more than a handful of days in the 90’s. All of this would make me wonder, is this now our new “normal”?

“Normal” by definition is “conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected.”  If I was asked to describe the agriculture industry in the past five years, the word “normal” would be the last word to come out of my mouth.  There are so many factors that have contributed to the lack of a standard in the farming world recently that makes it hard to know what to expect.  If the weather was a pitcher in the major leagues; known for only throwing fast balls, we have been connecting with the curve balls and sliders that Mother Nature has been thrown at us for many years.

The weather so far in 2017 has been a little crazy, and we do not know what pitch is coming as we b wrap up winter and prepare for spring.  This is the time of year when farmers start to get a little stir crazy and begin pulling equipment out of the shed.  The big question you need to ask yourself is “When should I start planting?”  Deciding when to plant might be a lesson passed down from a prior generation and that is just the way that you do it because that is how Grandpa did it.  Maybe you decide to start planting each spring based on other things, like ground temperature or moisture. Maybe you begin to plant as soon as you are ready each year. You might even decide to start planting when you see that your neighbor is in the field.  However you decide the time is right to put that planter in the ground, please do it with some thought behind it.  The “normal” planting date on your farm might not be what it used to be.  Evaluate the “normal” way you have decided to plant in the past, you might realize that you need to be ready to throw an unexpected “pitch” this spring.  If you need to move your planting date up or back a day or week, all I ask is that you do it for a good reason. 

Use the resources you have available to you so that you can make the best decision possible to start the 2017 season off right.  The agronomy team here at Progressive Ag Center is here to help you with this tough decision of “when” to start planting.  We cannot predict the future, but we can hopefully help minimize some of your risk.  “Normal” is an idea that we all believe is there, but I believe the “normal” in farming is that every year is different.  There are new challenges that we face and overcome every year.  Farming is constantly changing and we must continue to adapt with it.  Good luck this spring.

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