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Drought Does Not Dampen Attitudes at Farm Science Review

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Chris Jefferies

The rains of Tuesday gave way to sunny skies and ideal Fall temperatures on Wednesday at the Ohio Farm Science Review. Wet fields kept many Indiana and Ohio growers out of their fields and filling the aisles at the show. Chris Jefferies, with Seed Consultants, told HAT most visitors are upbeat despite disappointing crops, “Most of us have been through this before; and, while they are disappointed with the yields, they are ready to move on to next year.”  In a normal year, seed companies tout their top performing hybrids at fall outdoor farm shows, but this year there is not much to brag about said Jefferies, “This year was not a good test of what a hybrid can do. If you got some rain at the right time, you got some yield regardless of what hybrid you planted.”

 

The one thing the drought did show is how much crop genetics have improved, “The hybrids I was selling 30 years ago would have not yielded anything in a drought like this.”  Jeffries noted that most of today’s hybrids at least put on an ear, something that would not have been the case a decade or two ago. He said hybrids today are better prepared to stand weather stress and protect themselves against disease and insect pressure. That combined with more growers having crop insurance, put American agriculture in better shape to handle a major drought.

 

Most of the growers crowding the large Seed Consultants tent were making seed decisions for 2013. Jeffries is urging farmers not to make adjustments based on the drought, “If you make decisions based on last year, you will be a year behind.”  He does not recommend growers cut back on seed populations or fertilizer in 2013.  Furthermore, selecting a racehorse hybrid just to make up for low yields this year may not be the correct selection.

 

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Farmers are, by nature, optimistic. That optimism was evident at the show as growers were writing seed orders and checking the specs on farm equipment even with this year’s harvest just getting started and no prospects for a Farm Bill on the horizon.