It’s raining outside.  Again.  As farmers, we understand that each growing season comes with its own unique set of challenges, and from year to year, none look alike.  And I don’t think anyone can dispute, 2019 has started as a planting season to remember. 

In my immediate footprint and in regards to our farming operation, we have been quite lucky, with all things considered. This year's crop was planted off-and-on throughout a 6-week roller coaster that allowed us to plant our first field of corn on April 27th and didn’t let us finish our final field of soybeans until June 4th. We were much more fortunate than many others, as we ended up getting over 98% of our total acres planted.  There are (literally) millions of acres of unplanted crops in areas of the heartland, and many farmers for the first time have had to make some incredibly tough decisions on what to do next.

Farmers are hard-wired to plant a crop.  It’s what we’re driven to do. The choice to claim prevent-plant insurance on anything is not a decision we can make proudly, and because of the rarity of this planting season, the unknown, and unfamiliarity of this decision have caused somewhat of panic within the farming community. Personally, this is the first time I have ever had to claim the coverage; luckily, it was on a small percentage of my acres in comparison.

I (like most farmers) usually start every season with a lot of optimism. I think we have to. There are so many variables when it comes to farming; we need to be eternal optimists. During the long Minnesota winters, I always believe that I’ll get my crop planted at the perfect time, followed of course by a lot of early spring heat and plentiful, but not too much rainfall. That’s rarely the case. We know we can not control the rain frequency, nor the intensity. It can be difficult to remain optimistic at times. Especially when you consider things like the current high input costs, trade wars, increasing regulations, consumer sentiment, etc. Adding the uncertainty of this year’s planting season certainly doesn’t make things any easier for us. 

Whatever the outcome, I believe most farmers will remain optimistic about the 2019 season. The variables of farming often tend to work themselves out. Mother nature can certainly get us down, but she can also pick us up at times when we need it. Today’s crops seem to become more and more vigorous all the time, and with a little heat, some sunshine, and some help from above, the 2019 crop could still be plentiful. Hopefully, our trade negotiations will ultimately end well, and we will see less uncertainty and less volatility reflected in our grain markets. 

Farmers are a hardy bunch. We’ve dealt with bad weather and market uncertainty before. I strongly believe that if farming were consistent and predictable, many of us wouldn’t enjoy it as much. We take tremendous pride in what we do, and although the 2019 planting season will be remembered as a difficult one, we will get through it as we tend to do.

Every planting season and harvest brings a new challenge, and new lessons to learn, and we will once again bring that optimism into the spring of 2020. We have to.

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