Farming is not for control freaks. You can do everything right, make all the best decisions, work every waking hour, and pray nonstop and the weather might still completely destroy your crop.
Many of our fellow farmers are experiencing what is being called the worst drought our nation has ever seen. There are crop failures across the midwest and, for a change, agriculture has entered the vocabulary of national news programs and the general public. Because we are such a large and diverse nation, Americans will not starve because of this drought, but they will probably notice the increase in the cost of their food supply.
The laws of Supply and Demand dictate that this drought and the resulting shortage of food harvested will increase the price of what food survives as demand for food will not decrease. Those who have managed to get proper hydration to their fields, whether via rain or irrigation, will see record-breaking commodity prices. Those who are watching their fields wither under the dry hot sun will only feel more heartbreak in the “could-have-been” prices they would have gotten. Those of us who were unable to plant crops like soybeans (because of the financial difficulties we saw early this year), are watching our neighbors’ fields with a twinge of envy.
But also with a grateful heart. For as much as we wish we had been able to plant those gorgeous soybeans like our neighbors, we know that there are those farmers and farm families without any crop this year. We still have our main crop, our sugarcane, and for that we are greatly thankful.
We also wish that we could share with the nation’s farmers something that we have gotten in abundance this summer: heavy and frequent rains. Yes, while the rest of the country is too dry to grow anything, we are too wet to get in the fields. We are constantly maintaining drainage while other farms are working on irrigation.
Water, whether too much or too little, is the number one influence on a successful crop. The heavy rains we have gotten of late have knocked down some of our cane, the ground too saturated to hold the heavy stalks up straight. It is both a blessing and a curse to have such a gorgeous and healthy crop this early. The taller and heavier the stalks of cane, the easier it is for wind and rain to knock it down.
We can still harvest down cane, and have done so after many tropical storms, hurricanes, and just regular thunder storms. It is more difficult to cut horizontal cane than vertical, but not impossible thanks to the modern combine harvester.
Planting, however, is a different story.
We have written before about how we plant entire stalks of cane in the ground in order to grow new ones. When cane goes down, it immediately begins to bend up again, reaching for sunlight. This causes curved stalks and curved stalks don’t lie in the trench properly to plant. They curve to the side or even straight up, just growing improperly.
Please don’t get us wrong, though. We love rain. We are thankful for every drop that comes our way. We just wish we could share a bit of it with the rest of the crew.