SHELBY, Mont. – Despite the year getting off to a rocky start, 2020 just might turn out ok after all. There are several factors working against Montana agriculturalists right now, but Mother Nature, thankfully so, isn’t one of them.
For Klayton Lohr, a dryland wheat farmer, Mother Nature is often a bone of contention, but for the past few weeks Klayton has contentedly sat back and watched the rain fall. In fact, for the most part, Mother Nature has been good to work with all through planting. Klayton was able to get his wheat in the ground during the first part of May and then the rains came. Sunny days have been sprinkled throughout the month and Klayton says his crop is looking good.
“It’s been a while since I’ve had a spring crop that looks this good, this early,” he said during a June 8 phone interview.
During the phone update, Klayton reported he had received 7/10 of an inch of rain since Saturday, June 6, and he was expecting to get about .15 inches of rain on June 8 alone. The sun was supposed to come out around the middle of the week, but more rain was likely come over weekend and the timing couldn’t be better. All of Klayton’s crops are in the ground and he also wrapped up custom seeding for his neighbor.
Klayton has also been able to spray his chem-fallow in between moisture bouts. He has gotten in the habit of spraying his chem-fallow every 28 days, no matter what. He admits doing it this way takes a bit more labor and water, but by spraying on a consistent schedule, all of the weeds are smaller and are a uniform size, so less chemical needs to be used and he feels he gets a higher kill rate. Hammering the weeds early on also means he won’t have to worry about spraying while he is also trying to harvest.
To add to Klayton’s good fortunes, his infamous “million dollar field” is beginning to look less barren. Restoring the burnt, windswept chunk of land has been time consuming and expensive, but with a little help from H&H Spreading, Klayton is happy to report the field is now in tip-top shape. H&H Spreading wrapped up spreading manure over the field on June 1, and in true hi-line fashion, the wind began to blow not long after. Despite the 40 mile per hour wind gusts, the freshly spread manure did its job because Klayton proudly said, for the first time in a long time, the dirt in the field didn’t even budge.
With the land busy soaking up all of Mother Nature’s blessings, Klayton is busy doing book work, FSA paper work and other errands. The increased moisture has also caused him to re-think his spraying/chemical plan for the remainder of the season.
“I wasn’t going to spray for wild oats, but after all this moisture, now I’m thinking I should,” he said.
It’s a constant juggling act in farming to try and make everything pencil out. In years past, the timing and moisture haven’t always lined up in such a way to make it worthwhile to spray for wild oats, but things look good this year and Klayton thinks there will be enough difference in the yield to pay for it all.
Klayton has kept himself busy these last few weeks, but now that he is relatively caught up, he is looking forward to an upcoming golf tournament put on by the local Shelby radio station. He claims to not be a very good golfer, but he also knows life is too short and farming is too stressful of a job to not at least have some sort of fun. Besides, there is the potential to win money at this upcoming golf tournament and Klayton certainly won’t shy away from that.
“If I win any money I will probably just put it towards my chemical bill,” Klayton says with a laugh.
All and all, things are looking pretty good up on Montana’s hi-line. Klayton acknowledges, as a farmer, he may never be ahead of schedule, but for once he is pleased to admit he is caught up on all he needs to do.