It's spring which means it's planting season. Usually, a new season brings anticipation and excitement with some angst about what will unfold in the new crop year. But this year, the anxiety seems to have a head start on the anticipation. We're in a drought. We ended last season in a drought and we're starting 2021… still in a drought.
As an agricultural editor, I receive countless maps, forecasts and articles from various sources about the weather. If they are correct, rain isn't included. Only hot and dry. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.
My farmer usually gets somber this time of year. Decisions to make, a thousand things going through his mind. Countless what ifs. What will we plant? What variety? When? It's about timing and pressure to make the "right" decision based on speculative forecasts and volatile markets. And not only make one "right" decision but the "right" decision repeatedly. As my farmer often says, "There's little room for error in farming anymore." No pressure…
Drought is hard. You can see it in his face, hear it in his voice. It's visible in our rural community. It affects everyone. On the one hand, we're encouraged that prices are higher for most commodities but if you can't grow the crop to market it, that's a problem.
Yes, we have irrigation, and for that we are grateful. But our irrigation is supplemental and expensive. There was a day when my farmer made a crop no matter what. All he had to do was irrigate. But those days are over. To put this into perspective, about 30 years ago, one of our farms had one well nozzled for 750 gallons. Today, it has two wells nozzled for 150 gallons each. Our water is diminishing, the aquifer isn't replenishing, and it seems to be raining less.
My farmer said last fall he would begin this season with a loose grip on his planting decisions. "If it rains, then this… If it rains this much, then this…" If it doesn't rain, then what? We are there.
A week ago, he decided to forego corn on most of our farms. He's considering grain sorghum and cotton, but we've got wheat we are trying to keep alive, so when will he pre-water to prepare for the other crops? I'm not sure.
Our wells and sprinklers are weary — our sprinkler repairmen a familiar guest. The wells have been running nonstop since last spring, with a slight reprieve in December and January.
As a farmer's wife, it's hard to watch. I can't fix it. I can't make it rain. My farmer wants to produce a crop. It's who he is, it's what he's always done. I'm not sure what this season holds but I know who holds it and that's who we are clinging to. Pray for rain today. We need it!
*Update: This week se received a half-inch on a couple of our farms, sprinkles on others. Hopefully, this is the beginning of more to come! Keep praying!