The drought monitor report as of 8 a.m. Tuesday, November 14, shows no real significant change again for our area this week. We are still in severe drought. Overall, across the state conditions are slowly deteriorating with the lack of moisture in most areas and warm temperatures. The six to ten-day outlook (November 21 to 25) indicates a 40 to 50% chance of leaning below normal for temperatures and a 33 to 40% chance of leaning below normal precipitation. The eight to fourteen-day outlook (November 23 to 29) indicates a 33 to 40% chance of leaning to below normal temperatures and near normal for precipitation. Not the precipitation forecast we need. Hopefully, the predicted rainfall Saturday and Sunday happens.
Harvesting is winding down for most and wheat planting pretty well wrapped up. Many non-ag types think that now producers can take a break. Kick back and relax. A bit? Maybe. But the reality for most is much different. So, what are/should producers be up to now in no particular order?
· Evaluate the past growing season field by field. While taking weather and other factors into account, see what worked and what didn’t. Problem weed areas are identified. Which hybrids and varieties are worth keeping and which should probably go. And of course, total input costs with an eye towards profitability. After that go to the next bullet point.
· Examining everything from weather projections and markets to input costs, rough out the crops for next year and the acreage devoted to each. After doing that, visit with seed dealers to order seed for next spring as there is usually a good discount for ordering now.
· Soil test or at least have a good idea of what quantity of nutrients you removed. For nitrogen and sulfur that will wait till next spring much closer to planting. Once you determine your acreage of each crop and a realistic yield goal, you will have an idea of how much total fertilizer you need. Knowing how much is in the ground now, your percent organic matter, and pH allows a producer to order projected fertilizer needs now and again save some money.
· Many producers will have cattle on wheat or other pasture over the winter and several hours at a minimum are devoted each day to their care. Some fall calve and are dealing with that project while others spring calve and are checking progress and health. Normally, some “doctoring” needs done.
· If they strip till, late fall/early winter is a good time to strip till and even lay down so fertilizer as you do it.
· Maintenance and repair of equipment and cleaning up some to be put to bed until next season. Just generally cleaning up everything and determining what needs purchased in terms of fuel, lubricants, etc. for the upcoming growing season.
There is more but hopefully we all understand that in modern agriculture there are no real “down” times.