A farmer’s relationship with Mother Nature is often very different than most people who do not rely on the weather for their livelihood. Sure, we all love a bright and sunny day outdoors or wish for rain for our lawns and gardens, but the reality is that if weather is not a major part of your profession or doesn’t directly affect your finances, you might feel inconvenienced or annoyed but it is not a matter of survival.
With farmers, their livelihood is very dependent on weather as it can make or break a crop each year, so it makes a lot of sense that they are much more passionate about the weather.
The relationship between farmers and weather may seem indescribable at times and may often be more of a love/hate relationship, but there two words that seem to sum it up: unpredictable and indispensable. Be it one farmer and his personal feelings about the weather or five farmers and their disagreements on what weather we need, everyone has different experiences. So, since we can’t change or even impact the weather, we thought we would look at some common misperceptions about farmers and the weather.
All farmers want the same weather
Is there anything more frustrating than hearing someone in the same zip code as you celebrating a change in the weather while your crops are suffering? Probably, but it doesn’t always feel like it when you are in the middle of it.
While it may seem that farmers all either want it to rain or are all praying for a nice break from too much moisture, this is not always the case. In fact, we often see just the opposite. One farmer may be hoping for dry, warm weather for one field and may want a good soaker to revive his crops in another field.
Rain often varies, even a couple miles apart. Some areas may only get a few tenths of rain, while a field a nearby may benefit from an inch or even more from a rainfall. Desired weather is also dependent on the particular crop. Water use for different crops varies as does the timing when moisture is critical for peak crop development. Corn, for example, uses the most water during silking and grain fill which is critical to maximizing yield. With soybeans, they need the largest amount of moisture during pod development to pod fill. This timing can vary by crop and by field, especially when fields may have been planted at different times and may be at various growth stages throughout the season.
With Rainy Weather, at least the Farmers are Happy.
We have all heard it before. According to the local meteorologist and even the guy in the corner booth at the local hotspot, when it is raining it may not make a lot of people smile, but it should at least be good for the farmers. Right?
While the general public may have a good understanding that plants need water, they don’t always grasp that sunshine and warmer temperatures might be just what the farmer ordered as crops need more than just moisture to help them grow and reach their maximum yield potential. This is especially true if they have been receiving adequate moisture throughout the season. Too much of anything is not good for any living thing, including crops.
Dealing with crops and different weather needs.
It’s true, but farmers don’t always even know themselves what is at the top of their weather wish list.
Different crops have different moisture needs, so a farmer growing multiple crops may be looking for different weather across their fields. Plus, if they also raise livestock, that adds another level of complexity to their view of the optimum weather. This can cause inner turmoil, along with the external groaning when farmers are asked about their weather wish list.
Often, rain will greatly help out one of their thirsty crops, but a warm, dry spell could aid maturation for another crop. And that is even without taking the different soil types in each field into consideration. Some fields have a lighter, sandier soil that can handle more rain and some have a heavier soil that retains the moisture just fine. Even if controlling the weather was in their hands, it’d be a difficult choice. I guess we’ll just keep focusing on the glass being half full when changes in weather only benefit part of the farm.
Extreme weather brings farmers of all kinds together.
No one ever hopes for extreme weather, including flooding, drought, extreme heat or cold, or even early or late snowfalls.
However, one thing with weather is that, in addition to being a popular topic of conversation, it brings farmers together. Even in the toughest times, farmers are able to come together and be resourceful, looking for ways to make a tough situation better by helping a neighbor or a fellow farmer, counties or states away.
We have seen great examples of this when severe weather conditions impact farmers in a geography and the larger agricultural community pulls together to lend support in labor, equipment or other resources as appropriate. This “we are all in it together” mentality is what makes us proud to be a part of the agricultural community.