Definition: “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.”
Patience sounds so simple in theory, but we all know that the reality of it is so much more profoundly complicated. We all have that internal clock that is seemingly programmed to switch our mental state in April. We have been making plans and preparations for four months now on how we are going to do it better this year than ever before. We are going to make sure we don’t repeat the sins and mistakes of the past. It’s nothing new for us to sit here April 15th – 20th and wonder if it is time to start planting. We are used to cool and wet soils, and less than ideal planting conditions. We seem to work around that at some point every planting season. What is different though is that usually, we have our other field work done and don’t feel quite so behind before we even start.
The reality of this year’s situation for some of us, especially the farther North that you go is that there is still a lot of field work to do. With all of that field work comes even more opportunities to cause problems for this season. Most of us are going to have a nearly full soil profile to start this crop off with which is great. But that also means that we will have more opportunities than normal to cause compaction layers, whether through spring tillage, fertilizer application, or other trips across the field. So, lesson number one in patience, stay out of the field when conditions are too wet.
I am sure I don’t need to remind you about how last planting season went. For those of you that have followed us online for a time now, last year we went through a very similar set of circumstances. We planted our first corn at the Innovation site in Bellwood on April 17th. Then we got rained out, and the weather took a turn. The soil temp dropped several degrees before we got back into the field. Against our better judgment, we did a little planting on the 26th of April, but it was 39 degrees outside, and the forecast was to stay wet for a while. So we planted two rounds to compare it to earlier and later plantings. Then we finally got on the field on the 12th of May, and we had a soil that was fit to plant, and was warm enough for germination and getting warmer.
The results of that test were that our last planted crop was the best. Even though the soil didn’t cool much for the corn planted on the 26th, it was lagging on yield by a couple of bushels. Where we saw the big difference was the corn planted on the 17th of April into what proved to be cooling soil. We lost around 12 bushels in yield vs. what was planted on May 12th. That equals over 40 dollars off of the bottom line that we have no chance to get back the rest of the year. And our cost to capture that $40, was nothing more than some patience.
As for the take home for today, planting conditions (both today and in the future) trump calendar date. If I could have you do one thing right now, it would be to throw out your calendar and not worry about the date. Planting at the right time has a bigger impact on our maximum profit than planting early. That is why you will continually hear me saying to plant into warming soils, and don’t mud it in. All of the technology in the world won’t erase planting into wrong conditions. So, do your very best right now to be patient. Last year I harvested 300 bushel plus corn that was 110-day maturity that was planted on May 7th. We can wait for better conditions and still be successful.