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The Weather May Not Be the Problem

There are so many stark contrasts in the world today. These are times out of which great epics of literature ought to be written but aren’t. Society is too engrossed in drivel like whether badminton players in the Olympics were cheating or not. This summer, the driest in 50 years in parts of the Midwest, the Army Corps of Engineers is dredging deeper channels for the barges on the Mississippi River, which is at an all time low level. Just last year, rainfall in the eastern corn belt was at an all-time high and the Corps was desperately trying to control flooding on the Mississippi. Weather-related contrasts are occurring here in my own Ohio backyard where it barely rained at all from May to August. Close to our farm stand two cornfields just across a narrow road from each other. One has nearly normal corn and the other (in one of the photos) has drought-stricken corn. I know personally both farmers who planted these two fields and both are very competent. The soil in both fields is the same. Fertilizer applied was about the same. Rainfall was the same. This contrast appears all over the county, all over the state, all over the Corn Belt. What is going on here? Farmers and farm reporters and this blog have talked the question half to death. Our own local chapter of contrary farmers lists these possibilities for the difference in the two fields: time of planting, depth of planting, corn variety, seed bed preparation, plant population, and prayer. Since the two farmers involved both attend church regularly, I think we can rule out that last factor. Seed bed preparation was about the same, too. I’ve yet to hear anyone claiming to have the definitive answer to the contrast, but here’s what we think happened… Find out Gene’s hypothesis for the rotten growing season at his blog, The Contrary Farmer.

sanctuaryoftrees Gene Logsdon is the author of, most recently, A Sanctuary of Trees: Beech Nuts, Birdsongs, Baseball Bats, and Benedictions

A Small Thing But Maybe Not

All summer I raved and ranted at the squirrels that were eating the corn in my crib. I was particularly concerned because the drought seemed to be making sure this year’s crop was going to be a bust. I did not look forward to buying corn at drought-inflated prices just to keep squirrels fat eating […] Read More..

Fires In the Fields

If you want to see the landscape of hell painted prettily on a farmland horizon, watch a field of corn on fire. It is hellish enough, in my view, to see corn fields stretching away in every direction from sea to shining sea with no houses, barns, trees, fences, grazing animals or any other sign […] Read More..

Weeds That Like A Sip of Roundup Now and Then

First the glorious days of advanced farming brought us corn stalks that eat tractor tires. Now there’s a weed that likes to drink weed killers, especially Roundup. Recently Palmer amaranth “completely overran” most of the soybean test plots at Bayer CropScience’s test plots in Illinois, in the words of DTN/Progressive Farmer editor, Pam Smith, despite […] Read More..

Tire-Eating Cornstalks

I fantasize about genetically-engineering deer that would love the taste of raccoons or that would eat car tires so society would do something about surging wildlife populations. But now a true occurrence is taking place in Foolish Farming Today that not even a genius like Mark Twain could reduce to a more absurd conclusion. Agribusiness […] Read More..

Feeding The Buzzards

Walking over the brow of a hill in my pasture, I came upon the most ghastly, heart-stopping sight I’ve ever seen on the farm, or anywhere else for that matter. Perched on six fence posts in a row were six turkey vultures, alias Cathartis aura, or what we call buzzards. What made the scene so […] Read More..