Spring snow in mid-April gives farmers a challenge

By: 
Duane Dailey

On a mid-April Sunday morning I stand on the front porch, bundled up for winter, watching snowflakes drop from a dark sky. I pause to wonder. What’s the message each falling flake bring.

Things, they are changing. Nature has a profound impact on farmers working the soil. This time a year ago, I recall corn planting was well underway.

At the powerful MU Soybean Symposium in early April climatologists had what I saw as unusual news. They didn’t speak much about climate change. They just reported what’s happened.

There’s a difference between climatologists and TV weather forecasters. Climatologists are darn near perfect in their reports. They just tell us what has happened. They keep the records.

Last week climatologist Pat Guinan from MU Commercial Agriculture told us we were in the coldest April since 1895. And, we’d had two significant snowfalls already.

That’s kinda unusual, once in 123 years.

But wait! A few days later Columbia hit a daytime high of 80F. With that signal the ammonia tanks started rolling down the highways. Cornfields were going to get nitrogen fertilizer before the delayed planting.

But after a couple of days of warming weather what are snowflakes trying to tell us.

Our weather becomes as erratic as policies from Washington, D.C. What’s proclaimed today will be reversed tomorrow. Farmers, traders and other nations shake their heads in wonder.

Tariffs, what’s the deal? Ill-timed tariff tweets cost individual beef, soybean and other farmers thousands of dollars, overnight.

Withdrawals from multination trade alliances are now being reconsidered. The countries that went on trading without us ask: “Why do we need you now?”

Just recall when America was great in world trade?

Maybe silence from Washington would help until we figure out this weather.

In the end, Mother Nature is the real trump. Droughts, floods, heat waves and freezes are all powerful. Weather controls so much.

Farmers, ultimate optimists and risk takers, understand the part weather plays. Now, they don’t know the role of Washington. And, that’s where the next Farm Bill is supposed to be passed this year. That’s worrisome.

Standing on the front porch with a cup of black tea in hand, I look through snow up and down my street. Are any city citizens thinking about the state of farming, this season in this state? I think not.

The farm community does little to inform citizens that every person in this nation depends on farmer success. First there is that item of food. Three times a day, we need to remember farmers made his happen.

But, there’s more: Agriculture includes caring for the soil on the farms and the water that falls on it. The air over it is affected. The forests are part of agriculture.

We need to tell the timber story. When you see a stand of trees, you see trillions and trillions of stable molecules of carbon not floating into the atmosphere to warm the planet. The same goes for every blade of pasture grass. Green leaves of corn do the same.

Photosynthesis in leaves uses solar power to absorb a carbon dioxide molecule and break it into three parts. One part, the carbon molecule, goes into the plant structure.

Two molecules of oxygen are released into the atmosphere.

Without oxygen to breath, you die. 

So, you see, farming gives you more than food. It cleans the air you breathe.

We haven’t told of the dollar impact agriculture has in our state. We are Ag driven. It’s the number one money maker for the whole state.

That’s another column. 

We probably think dollars before we think of food we eat and oxygen we breathe.

I doubt Russian bots spread all these falsehoods about farming. We must be wary of those who would destroy agriculture.

We can’t rely on Old McDonald to feed us. 

Thank a real farmer.

 Also, write to duanedailey7@gmail.com or 511 W/ Worley, Columbia, Mo., 65203.

Category: