Berryton, Kansas

It’s official ... the calendar will turn to May before we have anything planted. The regular rains have given us precious few days to get field work done so far this spring, and there is water standing in the field east of my house as I write this. Another two inches, plus or minus, fell across our area at the end of last week, and some more showers in the days that followed kept it from drying out at all. At this point, we have half our fertilizer applied and about half of the bean ground sprayed. On the plus side, the lack of breaks in the weather has allowed me to get all of the soybeans hauled to town, and the corn will all be gone by the end of this week. My small winter wheat crop is also looking pretty good. We have struggled to get things done, but it has not all been lost time.

This will be my last report. I will be rotating off to make room for another producer, and I wish my successor well going forward. As I move beyond my first 12 months managing our farm, I can tell you I have learned far more than I expected. 2019 turned out to be a nearly non-stop lesson in making major changes in plans, being flexible, and doing my best to view events through the prism of a realistic business plan that was written well in advance of my operational launch.

I have talked regularly about marketing in my writing; focusing on that aspect of my business has thus far served me very well. “Sell when you can, not when you have to” is simple to understand, yet far more difficult in practice. Knowing where I can make a profit made all the difference. It helped me to be more nimble without too much second-guessing.

I learned another very valuable lesson, which most farmers with more experience would surely agree with — don’t stay married to a plan. Last year, we may have finally ended the planting season on about Plan E, and fall work went out to maybe Plan F. Uncertainty was a constant. The weather was almost entirely to blame for that. We had one of the wettest years on record. As we all run headlong into a chaotic 2020, those lessons are being further reinforced. I’m preparing to implement Plan B (or maybe C?) for pre-planting work, and I would venture to guess that the planting plan will have a few iterations of its own if current conditions here continue on a wet trend.

To all the people I’ve met and talked with about these columns — it has been a pleasure sharing my experiences with you, and I enjoyed meeting and spending time with you. Your keen interest in my farm has been humbling. If you’re the social media type, feel free to follow along on Twitter @lynncreekfarm.

Local basis levels: corn -0.01, soybeans -0.38; hard red wheat -0.05, milo +0.55. — Ryan Johnson

We would like to thank Ryan for a fantastic year of sharing insights about his operation as a Producer Progress Reporter. We wish him all the very best! — Midwest Messenger editorial team.