Outstanding In Their Field

Outstanding in their field Stng Head-WEB

It has been an un-bee-lievable winter/spring so far. February was a harbinger of the season; my wheat broke dormancy mid-month. It was green and robust long before St. Patrick’s Day.
If this accelerated growth continues, it will lead to a late-June harvest rather than occurring during the Fourth of July holiday like it usually does.
The 2024 growing season is off to a fast start. Mother Nature has been very kind with many unseasonably warm days, this despite the moon blocking the sun for several hours in early April.
On my farm, I have an occurrence I have never seen before. Sweet corn that I planted in mid-April emerged in 9 days. It usually takes several weeks for early planted sweetcorn to achieve enough growing degree days (GDD), to emerge from the soil. It is not uncommon for early planted corn to take 2-4 weeks to emerge.
During the month of April, Mother Nature delivered ample rain. The month started wet and ended wet. The fields were dry enough to allow a stretch of field work from April 15th to the 25th. Many farmers capitalized on the trend of planting soybeans in April during that dry spell before the rains came the last several days of the month with many 3”-plus totals. There is cautious optimism that the rest of the month will not be cold enough for frost.
With close to 7” of rain for the month (National Weather Service reports 3.68” to be the average April rainfall) hay fields should be in very good shape for higher yields even if May turns drier. The previous decade has brought many dry springs that seriously cut hay yields in the area. With a major hay shortage ongoing, a wetter-than-average summer would be welcomed if it helps to rebuild hay inventories.
With the knowledge that I probably do not have very many farming seasons left in my aging body, I do more reflecting on the changes I have seen in my lifetime. Every year is different from the ones before. It was not many years ago we had a late-spring planting season. I was planting corn the first week of May, and there was not a single leaf on the trees. The trees had leaves mid-April this year.
I read several weeks ago that most of the lower Midwest was several weeks ahead of normal with growth. This year, the leaves are fully out; many trees have already bloomed. My wheat was above the knee on May 1, and the peonies had giant bulbs a week ago that looked like they would burst open before May.
For further proof that my life goals have indeed changed as I have aged, I left the farm during prime planting to go to the Rialto Theatre with my wife and mother-in-law to watch the movie “The Princess Bride.” I had never seen this popular movie before. It would have been “inconceivable” 25 years ago for my younger self to stop planting for a social event.
As a hobby beekeeper, I also find it inconceivable that for two straight years, my bee hives have survived the winter. They were very active in February and every warm day since. For the last 3 years, I have not even entered the hives or managed them one bit; I have taken a feral, no-hands approach.
Which superlative is more fitting here, un-bee-lievable or inconceivable?


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