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Serving: IN

'Son, we've been through bad crops before'

'Son, we've been through bad crops before'
Younger generation of farmers have less experience with bad crop years.

It's too early to write off the 2015 crop as a whole, even in Indiana. However, in certain sections of the state, in pockets in the northwest, northeast and north central areas, especially, the writing is on the wall. With late planting, drowned out fields and yellow crops, it's going to be a long year.

Related: Big rains bring dirty water and bad memories of soil erosion

Voice of reason: It may not seem like it now, but seasoned farmers say 'we'll survive this year.'

To their credit Purdue Extension reacted by bringing experts together last Friday to talk to the media and their own Extension staff across the state, emphasizing answers to questions people affected by flooding would likely be asking. They covered everything from potential herbicide carryover to the effect of flooding on potential government farm bill program payments.

One farming father related that while he doesn't like it, he's been there before. He's farmed through flood years, drought years and good years. But his partners, his sons, have less experience. The drought of 2012 wasn't as severe for them as some others. But they are getting smacked by the floods of 2015.

Panic can set in. Will we get N on the Crops? How are we going to bring in enough money to make it? When can I get those weeds sprayed?

Dad's advice is to chill, think rationally, make the best decisions you can, and ride it out. Pretty good advice.

My dad gave me that advice once, and I didn't listen. It was 1983. Working a job but farming on the side with my dad and brother, in my wide range of 30 years of farm experience, counting to when I was a baby, I had never experienced a crop failure. Others had, but not me. It would rain, it always did.

Well, for six weeks that summer, it didn't rain. My brother and I began to panic. We had contracted some grain. What if we didn't have enough to sell? It would surely rain, it always did.

But hot day after hot day all through July, it didn't. The corn took a visible turn for the worse. Soybeans hung on but were listless.

Dad kept saying it was part of it. Hang on – we will have some sort of crop. We will make it.

I was sure the world was ending. It always rained at our place. We always had good crops.

Truth is we harvested 100- to 120-bushel-per-acre corn and were glad of it. About half to two-thirds of normal, it was better than it might have been. The rains came back in August and helped soybeans, but were a bit late to help corn much.

Related: What does a farm father sound like?

Dad was right. Bad times don't last forever. A new day always dawns. It may not happen as quickly as you want, but it will happen.

Maybe it's why older farmers have gray hair. Just remember those with gray hair also have wisdom, often gained from the school of hard knocks. It's worth listening to a voice of reason when you're in the middle of something you've never witnessed before- like a poor crop year due to way too much rain.

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