Preparing For Harvest
This time of year is becoming one of my favorites. Summer is still very present, but now and then there is a hint of fall on the breeze. The crops have put down good roots, most have reached their mature height, and all we have left to do check our weather apps for rain.
This is the calm before the storm that harvest season inevitably becomes. This is the season of hopeful waiting that proceeds the reality of yield results and November bean prices. This is the season to take a deep breath, take a step back, and take a good look at our attitudes.
AVERAGE IS KEY
Just like most industries and markets, farming is predictably cyclical. This means we expect to go through several good years and then go through several tough years, and our goal is to manage our finances well enough that our average is enough to make a living. Last year was a good year for row crop farmers in Northwest Tennessee. We got just enough rain at just the right time, and increased yields made up for depressed commodity prices. Other farmers across the nation were not so lucky, and now it is evident that our industry has not yet reached the toughest times of the cycle we are currently in.
There are a lot of factors involved: surplus supplies of grain, emerging markets creating more competition, complicated trade politics, and the ever unpredictable weather. The bottom line is that corn prices have dropped 11% and bean prices have dropped 16% since the end of May.
This will be my second harvest with skin (and heart) in the game. Last year was a good year, but this year’s story is yet to be told.
So while Derek carefully inspects the equipment, keeps an attentive eye on the crops, and completes his long maintenance to-do list, I’m preparing myself for the inevitable results of our work. Whatever they may be.
The more I write about farming, the more I realize that it’s not that different from everyday life. We have dreams and we have challenges, we have painful lessons and we have successes, we have moments of doubt and we have a million reasons to continue pursuing worthy goals even when times are hard.
This season of quiet waiting in between summer and fall will always be one of my favorites. With the many blessing of this time of year, a heart learning to be still, and a mind focused on our long term goals, I am beginning to feel prepared for this year’s harvest.
Until next time,