Some of you might have had a Magic 8 ball as kids. Shake it up and it would give you an answer about the future. Who knows if any of the ridiculous propositions ever came true, because they were so funny that you laughed and then immediately forgot about them.
I never had a Magic 8 ball or an Ouija Board. But with Halloween in the not-so-distant future, it brings thoughts of soothsayers and fortune tellers and the like.
Here are 10 questions I would like to ask related to agriculture over the next year or more. If you know the answers, you should reinvent the Magic 8-ball. Farmers might pay money to know these answers.
1. Is there really as much corn out there as USDA thinks there is? Some say yes, some say no. Reports of 220 to 120 bushels for the same hybrid on the same farm indicate that there may be so much variability out there we may not know until everything is in the bin.
2. Which biotech traits will China approve for grain import in the next year? If you knew you could likely buy stock in specific companies and do well. Based on what we've seen from the Chinese government before, you might do as well with the old Magic 8 ball on this one.
3. Who will blink first and contribute to lower cash rents – landowners or tenants? Landowners need to pay taxes and live too, but come on – $3 corn at 150 bushels per acre won't pay the seed and nitrogen bill if you're paying super-high cash rent.
4. Will the Indiana State Fair debate between the State Fair Commission and State Fair Committee ever be resolved? All we've heard for nearly two years are rumors and more rumors. Where there is smoke, there is fire. It's time for cool heads to prevail, and to put this one to bed once and for all. Do it for the good of agriculture and future Indiana State Fairs.
5. Will Indiana see a mild winter? I believe in science, not wooly worms. My science-based sources say it will be a mild winter. I wish I knew if they were right so I knew whether to buy another snow shovel.
6. Will the 2016 growing season be more like 2012 or 2015? If you said "probably neither one," you're probably as good a guesser as anyone. Extreme weather seems to be the norm.
7. Will fertilizer prices rise or fall by next spring? It sure would make buying decisions easier right now.
8. Will the FAA approve common-sense rules for UAVs? It's time to settle this issue and let new technology blossom. And could we start calling them what they really are – drones?
9. Will EPA come to its senses and pull back the Waters of the U.S. rule? The odds may be slim, but we can always hope.
10. Finally, will Purdue win the Big Ten football championship this fall? Will Indiana University win the NCAA basketball crown in 2016? Will the Colts win the Super Bowl? If you answered yes to any one of the three, come see me. I don't have swampland in Florida to sell, but I've got a garden tractor with a broken axle I would make you a real deal on!