Optimism and late-planted crops

On the Fourth of July in 2011, I drove past a field of late-planted soybeans. The farmer had clearly “mudded in” his crop, and the fledgling bean plants were small and straggly in the still-soggy soil. I’m no agronomist, but I figured the farmer (whose identify I didn’t know) would be lucky to harvest even a mediocre crop.

I drove by the field quite a few times later in the growing season. Every time I passed, the beans looked a little better — a little healthier and more vibrant. By the middle of September, the field actually looked pretty good from the road.

In the middle of October, with the field nearly ready for harvest, I drove by again. This time I stopped, got out, walked into the field and took a closer look. I found that most plants had many pods and that most of the pods had three well-developed beans. I’m no expert, but even I could tell that the farmer, whoever he was, would enjoy a good yield.

I think of that field, which looked so unpromising early on, as area farmers struggle to plant this year’s crop. Many fields will be planted late, and they won’t inspire much confidence this Fourth of July.

Farmers, some of ‘em anyway, like to say their job requires them to be optimists. Sometimes that optimism is rewarded. Let’s hope this year will be one of those times.

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