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dfp-ronsmith-jason-luckey.JPG Ron Smith
Jason Luckey farms with his brother Ken and his nephew, Zac Luckey, in Humboldt, Tenn.

A wet spring sets back planting for Tennessee farmer

Humboldt, Tenn., farmer Jason Luckey says wet, cool weather set back 2020 planting and replanting some acres might be necessary.

Wet weather and COVID-19 have caused a few setbacks, but farmers know how to roll with the punches.

Wet, cool weather has made for a slow start to the planting season for west Tennessee farmer Jason Luckey.

Luckey farms in partnership with his brother, Ken, and his nephew, Zac Luckey, in Humboldt, Tenn.

"We all have our different responsibilities across our row crop operation where we grow corn, cotton, soybeans, and winter wheat," Luckey said. "We also have a beef cattle herd of around 180 female cows. We sell most of the calves at around 700 pounds; we'll ween them and background them.

"We've been raising cows for custom or freezer beef. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we've had several calls about our custom beef and sold out pretty quickly of what we could sell."

Farm plans

The Luckeys work to keep their original farm plans throughout the season, but they make changes as necessary.

"Several times since I've been farming full-time, since 1992, we've talked about cutting back in the spring or changing things up because of prices," Luckey said. "By the fall, we are almost always glad we stuck with our original plan. We will change up some things based on factors like weather, but prices usually bounce back in time.

"We usually keep our crops split evenly across our planting areas. We practice crop rotation, and as long as the weather permits, we'll keep our regular splits between the crops."

Luckey has some futures contracts on corn and soybeans.

"We did have a good start on the marketing year, and we did some hedges to help offset some drastically down prices," he said. "As far as marketing, we hope markets turn around soon because it's gloomy-looking right now."

A wet spring

They typically plant corn in April, as soon as the weather allows.

"This year, we got most of the corn planted in April," Luckey said. "The first of May, we lacked about 300 acres, but the fields were still too wet until recently. We still lack about 150-160 acres of corn we didn't get to before the rain. Unfortunately, we may have to do some replanting because of the 3.5 inches of rain and cold temperatures we had at the beginning of May."

The Luckeys started planting cotton on May 1. When the weather gets warmer, he hopes to get the rest of his cotton acreage planted as quickly as possible, as well as his soybeans.

"The adage, 'You never start anything you can't finish on a Friday,' was true for me the first weekend of May," he said. "It was a slow start on Friday and Saturday. I thought I might wrap up planting on Sunday, which is something I don't normally do, but it rained me out, and I had a flat tire.

"However, with the cold weather that's not good for freshly planted cotton, I think it was a blessing in disguise. I was talking with a friend, and he said, 'Well, it sounds like the good Lord was trying to slow you down to keep you from planting.' I think he might be right."

Luckey always tries to keep conservation in mind and believes cover crops are the future.

"We had hoped to plant a cover crop last fall, but the two consecutive years of a wet harvest-time kept us from getting one started," he said. "I hope that's on our horizon this year."

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