The View From Rural Route #8
While prime harvest weather ruled deep into October, allowing many farmers with fall crops to pretty much wrap it all up for the year, it did become pretty dry.
And, some of the farmers awakened early last Saturday morning to the sound of rain beating out a drum signal that said, “You-have-the-day-off. You-have-the-day-off.” The rest, or the relief, from constant tensions of handling crews, machinery, trucks and marketing was needed by many.
What was needed as well was the inch or so of rain that fell over a wide territory, presumably some of it on newly planted wheat ground, or the relatively few unplanted acres.
Right before the rain, the state crop report said growers had finished planting 86 percent of the acreage by the end of the week before. A lot of that had gone into dry soil, where it awaited a rain that needed to be the soft, soaking kind, and not too much at once.
The wheat planting season was growing late, meaning that more seeds per acre would have to be planted to compensate for the reduced tiller count per plant the looming cold weather would cause.
Anyhow, an earlier set of rains in part of the southern Plains hard red wheat country had driven prices down a bit, but no one expected the fall to be very far or for very long.
Meanwhile, some national critics were looking askance at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s statistics program, which badly over-estimated the corn crop, as it turned out, and stood on that projection much too long, the accusations went.
Not to worry, the industry is saying. There will be plenty of corn.
There were rumbles from China watchers that that country was looking to buy a lot of corn.
From another corner of the room came the warning that the Commodity Futures Trading Commission was finally planning to regulate some of positions of the instruments used by commodity index funds, which means that if that really happens, it could dampen price volatility or upward movements in the future.
But the chronically weak dollar means that importers can buy more American dollars with their currencies and then buy more grain, and that is also what observers expect to happen.
Also in agricultural talk is the election. If the Democrats lose majorities in the two chambers, expect a farm bill writing to take place a year after the current regime wants one to happen, which is a year earlier than normal.
Jim Suber is an award-winning farm, ranch, and rural life columnist residing on Rural Route No. 8, Topeka.
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