Happy Halloween! Perhaps that greeting is appropriate in lieu of this year’s harvest conditions, which are comparable to the 2012 election on Tuesday. Lots of mudslinging is apparent in area fields and on rural roads. The same can be said about many of the campaign ads dominating the radio programs listened to by farmers as they navigate their combines through soggy soybean and corn fields.
When a couple of good drying days came about last week, many fields with questionable ability to withstand harvest traffic, endured the weight of combines and whatever was used to haul grain to the road. The results were often not pretty. Tracking as deep as the tillage layer was common in fields that had been worked for spring planting. Fields without good drainage systems suffered the most but some producers noted undesirable wet zones even where tile were known to exist. No-tilled fields carried machinery the best although end rows and field exits were frequently sloppy.
Few farmers anticipate much improvement in harvest conditions as daylight hours lessen and temperatures decline. In one family farming operation, the decision to cut the last field of soybeans on Thursday of last week was halted when the son had to tell his father that the combine could not hold a straight path on a hillside. Others were relieved to say that their worst ruts were off the road a ways, generally out of sight of the neighbors. Yet another farmer was disgusted that his worst “tillage by combine” field happened to be in clear view at a busy intersection.
Soybean fields harvested earlier in October sometimes exhibited replanted or other immature areas left uncut. Scattered fields combined last week show patches surrounded by equipment tracks. Several commented that frozen ground might be the only option left to take in those last bushels.
Of course, the lower temperatures and higher humidity levels will reduce the rate of corn dry down and increase drier fuel usage.
On the bright side, many farmers continue to mention their higher than expected yields, especially soybeans. With good prices and surprising yields, harvest challenges are easier to stomach.
Since the later harvest will dictate additional road travel after dark, farmers may want to spend too wet to harvest days upgrading lighting and reflective areas on equipment. One observant driver mentioned that while most farm machinery is well lit and marked, sometimes the width and length of equipment is surprising even to those familiar with agricultural situations.
Now, back to that other muddy issue mentioned earlier. Our political process is certainly a messy one and can easily turn citizens into cynical non-participants. Too often people will say they did not vote because they were not interested or that their vote would not make a difference. Others comment that they are disgusted with candidates and campaign issues. Additional naysayers mention that taking time to vote just does not fit into their schedule.
While you might be disenchanted with the election process, voter participation is the only way to improve our system. While our way of government may not be ideal, find a better one anywhere in the world. Not many people want to leave the United States of America to live in another country but many want to come here because of the freedoms we enjoy.
As a citizen you have a right to vote. In my humble opinion, you are obligated to cast a ballot, choosing to support or oppose candidates and issues as you see fit. When you do not exercise your right to vote, your opinions are wasted in meaningless thoughts or discussions.
If you have already voted, thank you. Early voting makes it easy even if your schedule is booked solid next Tuesday. Please honor our veterans and strengthen our country. Vote!
The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of Farm World. Readers with questions or comments for Roger Bender may write to him in care of this publication.