Giltner, Neb.

While we escaped the worst of the polar vortex, with our wind chills only getting down to about 25 below, it was still a good time to be in the office or shop. My favorite meme I saw about farmers and the polar vortex went something like “Everyone stay safe in the cold weather. You too, grain farmers, if you find yourselves outside for some reason”. While there’s grain to haul and other outdoor projects, it’s not quite like chopping ice and calving. For some reason, my kids’ desire to add livestock to the operation always disappears this time of year.

The deep cold definitely had some benefits. A whole lot of grain was stored in bags out in fields, and it’s soft and muddy all over the place due to all the rain and snow over the last couple months, so the ground freezing made it easier to get trucks in the field. And with no snow cover, we should get a good deep freeze-thaw cycle in the soil. Overnight the gravel roads developed huge cracks all over the place, indicating that we got some pretty good deep freezing. That usually makes for easier planting conditions for the soil in the spring, though I’m a little concerned that it was cold enough to kill big portions of our rye cover crop. The warm weather earlier in January spurred on a couple inches of above-ground growth, so there should be good things happening under the soil.

Planting preparations will get going with a little more urgency in the next couple weeks. Harvesting all the way until Christmas Eve definitely threw off the pace of the winter, so it seems like it should be a month or so earlier than it is. There are still a few decisions to be made regarding where to put specialty crops like popcorn and seed corn, but we’re hoping to get that nailed down soon. I have a hunch that we might want to be ready to plant sooner rather than later — if the “rain 90 days after fog” rule is accurate, we’ll be wet the whole latter half of April. Just something we’ll be keeping an eye on.

Local basis levels: old crop corn -$0.42, new crop corn -$0.45. Old crop beans -$1.22, new crop beans -$1.05. — Zach Hunnicutt