Outstanding In Their Field

It is only the beginning of June, and the weather is already making headlines in the Midwest. If you love to mow everything you see to an inch or two heigh and water constantly, I advise you to quit reading now.
There is a classic saying among agricultural and weather experts, “We are only 3 weeks (of dry weather) away from drought.” Chicagoland has just experienced one of its driest Mays on record. My son recently told me that he has neighbors in the northwest suburbs watering their lawns in May. Apparently, he has learned a few things about weather and agriculture from me, even though he has become a white-collar employee and not a farmer.
Ironically, while the Midwest is in what has been termed a “flash drought” by the National Weather Service, the chronic dry areas of our nation, the plains and west Texas, have been inundated with rain.
The dry weather may be a blessing for all my friends who garden. It is my belief and observation that many novice gardeners tend to overwater. I believe that you should almost never water a garden. The recent dry weather will reduce the amount of fungus and other cool, wet diseases that may plaque gardens. I still remember the quote I heard many years ago from a commercial vegetable grower about his preference for dry weather, “We can always add water; we can never take it away.”
(See Page 6 for Nancy Kuhajda’s tips on proper watering during dry times).
The early arrival of warm and dry weather in the middle of May was probably devastating for wildlife and those who buy hay for their livestock. Many fields of hay were cut and baled earlier than normal. This probably led to many nests and young animals being destroyed. Given how early these fields were cut, combined with the drier conditions inhibiting growth, yields have been significantly reduced.
I have already informed many people to expect another hay shortage. It is my experience that first cutting hay from a field is usually ½ of the year’s total production. It does not bode well when that first cutting yield is lower than normal.
I have read countless articles about the prolific spread of army worms chewing on crops in farm fields. This makes me wonder if the voracity of these army worms is aided by the extensive documentation of how much we have destroyed our wild bird populations in the last 50-100 years.
This means farmers may have to rely more heavily on synthetic chemicals to control a pest that nature used to supply the answer to. While people are quick to blame pesticides for many of our ills to bees, pollinators, birds and many other kinds of wildlife, I have personally read and heard many experts on this subject state loss of natural habitats as the major factor for their declines.
Which brings me to wildlife enemy #1: Our love for mowing everything. I have watched many road ditches, waterways and creek banks, pastures, utility right-of-ways and grassy areas mowed to bare dirt or only a few inches of grass. I really must bite my tongue here, and admit, that I have mowed almost 1/3rd of my hay fields, even though I know I am committing the equivalent of genocide on nature in the interest of money.
Oh wait, I am only mowing areas that will provide me with an income and food for animals, not for aesthetics. Is there a difference?
I would love to have an intelligent conversation about this with those who are smarter than me.

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