Some people think that the only busy times of the year are planting and harvest and the rest of the year farmers spend their glorious amounts of free time vacationing or tinkering with antique tractors. This may be true for some, but not the majority. Today is the eleventh post in my one-year series which will give you an idea of a farmer’s workload throughout the year. Keep in mind that all farms operate differently and I am just providing one example of a year in the life of a grain farmer. There are several factors that contribute to the seasonality of the farm such as size and scale of the operation, crops grown, location, livestock, management style and general upbringing or personal work ethic! I hope this provides some insight to what versatile businessman farmers are.
Start at the beginning!
You’ll continue to get stuck behind slow-moving vehicles on rural roads throughout November, but at least visibility at stop signs improves with the corn and beans down. That’s right, harvest is (finally) wrapping up!
This year’s crop:
- Harvest: A farmer could still be harvesting his grain in November, especially if he’s in Northern Illinois or if the weather is uncooperative. Rain stalls harvest by making soybeans tough and difficult to cut, or by making the fields too squishy to drive heavy machinery through. As for SNOW… it’s not impossible to combine grain with snow on the ground, but it certainly makes picking, transporting, drying and storing it more difficult. Let’s just hope they don’t have to go there!
- Manage Break-Downs: As always, managing breakdowns is an ongoing task on the farm. Gotta keep the equipment in good working order to get the job done.
- Install or fix tile lines: After the crop is out, it’s a good time to install or repair tile lines. Field tile is like a big underground gutter system that aids in field drainage. Sometimes tile can become broken or clogged and needs to be dug up and repaired. Or maybe the field didn’t have any tile to begin with. Post harvest is a good time to install it.
Next year’s crop:
- Looking ahead: With “this year’s crop” being hauled away, it’s time to implement next year’s game plan. This is where things could vary greatly from farm to farm depending on the farmer’s individual preferences and management techniques. Some options could be:
- Fall tillage: working up the ground to break up plant matter and prepare the seed bed for next year’s crop
- Fertilizer and other dry product application: Examples would be phosphorous and potassium (commonly referred to as P&K) and lime
- Anhydrous ammonia can be applied in the fall.
- If farmers are using over-wintering cover crops such as cereal rye, it may be applied post-harvest, depending on what is being planted.
- Research and place 2017 seed orders
This year, USDA, NASS stated that harvest was at least 97% complete at Thanksgiving. What a relief for farmers and their families! With the crops out of the field, the Stewards of the Land were able to enjoy some much-needed family time around the dinner table giving thanks for the bountiful harvest!
Membership Administrative Assistant