Recent text messages are catching my attention lately. The message begins with, “Do you have a couple minutes to visit about ...”

For those outside of farming and agriculture the perception of our lifestyle may be simple, easy, slow, cows and crops. The rest of us know we are in Big Business, fast paced, sunrise to sunset, and hopefully you can slow it down for your family. Farmers and the businesses they are involved with are busy. The calendar and days we are up against matter, and to compete with that we need to stay on schedule, remain focused and worry about the details.

So, when I get a text requesting a few minutes of time, of course the response, as it is for many others, is YES. I hedge that time visiting with farmers by utilizing employees to keep doing the work I have trained them to accomplish.

Wheat field ripening. (Mark Huso, Special to Agweek)
Wheat field ripening. (Mark Huso, Special to Agweek)
The discussions lately with farms involve a few different areas. First, prevented planting acres. As the summer is moving along, our region of north central and northeast North Dakota, has become quite wet, not only making it challenging for taking care of our crops but exceedingly difficult to address the already wet prevented planting fields. Some farms were able to make some early herbicide and tillage passes for weed control and to dry out soil. Very few of the fields have a cover crop established, and unfortunately in many of the fields we are now facing some sizable weeds and still very wet conditions. As the weather is now opening a window of dry weather for a stretch, the prevented planting plans are being reevaluated. Tillage tools and passes are changing along with original herbicide plans that now may not handle the current weed spectrum and size of weeds. Cover crops will be spread on and incorporated with tillage, and others will be direct seeded if field conditions allow. The overall goal is to control soil moisture and improve field conditions for the next season.

The next season has become another reason to take a few minutes of time and begin planning the 2021 crop with our farmers. Crop choices are being looked at with primary focus being fall tillage, fall herbicide plans and fertilizer applications. In our area along with much of the Midwest, the fall of 2019 did not allow for any of that to get accomplished, so farms are already making plans to utilize the fall season, assuming weather will allow. The corn acres are down significantly for farmers, which will create more time to perform other tasks needed to prepare for the 2021 season. Understandably, we have not harvested an acre yet, so much is still needed to get done before we can tackle our fall goals.

Weeds getting big while field prevent plant dries out from recent rains. (Mark Huso, Special to Agweek)
Weeds getting big while field prevent plant dries out from recent rains. (Mark Huso, Special to Agweek)
When considering “taking the time” for a visit, you begin to place a value on what taking the time might be. With harvest season on the horizon, taking the few extra minutes becomes increasingly important. Service equipment, train employees, take safety measures, but still maximize time and efficiency because the calendar and the days are not going to change.

The crops in the area overall look good. There are fields that no question had too much rainfall along with storm damage, and the profit certainly has been affected. Commodity prices are still low and input costs are strong, therefore the margin of error has become zero. With that in mind, the value of “taking the time” could be at its highest.

Mark Huso of Huso Crop Consulting from Lakota, N.D., works with farmers in six North Dakota counties in the production of cereals, canola, corn, edible bean, soybean and sunflowers. He can be reached on Twitter @husocrop or by email: husocrop@polarcomm.com.