The Sky Didn’t Fall After All

Think back a moment to the middle of July.  If you’re an ag producer, you remember how hot and and dry it was You also remember the lamentations and gnashing of teeth about how crops would be hammered

Well, the October production report from the National Agricultural Statistics Service, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, estimates that yields of most crops in North Dakota and Minnesota held up pretty well during drought. Many South Dakota farmers were hammered, unfortunately, but their peers to the north and east generally did better.

In no way, shape or form am I minimizing the drought. Some individual farmers in North Dakota and Minnesota were hurt badly, with many livestock producers scrambling desperately for pasture and hay. And no doubt crop yields would have been even better without the drought.

Of course, producers  in North Dakota and Minnesota — on the fringes of severe drought in the Corn Belt — benefited from the higher crop prices that the drought helped to generate.

My take-away from all this reaffirms one of the basic truths of production agriculture on the Northern Plains: You can never be sure about yields until you’re sitting on the combine.


1 Response

  1. Bryan

    While I appreciate the fact that some area producers are enjoying average or better crops, it causes those of us who aren’t even more stress. You mentioned that some low yields are out there, and maybe I’m just in a dry pocket, but with a half a crop (even with good prices) this is not going to turn out well for some of us. Adding to this problem. farmers from the better yielding areas are coming in and cherry-picking land away from us. The land is very productive normally, but with this years crop, we are limited in our ability to keep up with the rising rents. Our landlords read a blog like yours and assume everything is going to turn out well after all. I’ve had neighbors tell me that their landlords want rent increases that would put total rent over this years gross income. I remember a few things from my Econ classes at NDSU, and one of them is if expenses exceed income, bad things happen. With subsoil moisture at zero, there has to be a real leap of faith to be more optomistic than ever before.
    I’ve been very fortunate over the years of farming. I’ve farmed through more tough years than good. Chances are good I’ll see a few more. Of both. I enjoy reading your columns and blogs — but please remember what happens to those who use statistics to make generalizations. They may piss off a few of those who actually read it. Especially if the yields we saw on our combines sucked worse than we could have imagined.

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