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John Block Reports from Washington

RSS By: John Block, AgWeb.com

John Block has dedicated his professional career to the fields of agriculture, food and health.

Spring Planting

Apr 23, 2010

What a difference a year makes. We’re all but finished planting our corn already. We didn’t finish last year until June. We didn’t finish harvest last year until Christmas. My father always said that every year is different.
 
At this point in time, American farmers across the land are cheering the new day. What a joy it has been this spring to watch that corn planter march back and forth, back and forth, precisely planting the golden kernels at a rate of 33,000 per acre. Look at the rows – straight as an arrow. No surprise with GPS doing the driving. Newly worked soil in the spring has a rich aroma that can only be appreciated if you’re there on the spot.
 
The planting season, as perfect as it has been, is only the first step in the long journey to harvest. There is an extended list of threats that this crop must face. We could worry about weeds and corn bores and root worms and on and on. When I was a kid, those were serious. They hurt our yield every year. But thanks to genetic engineering and today’s technology tool box, that’s not as big a problem.
 
Weather is our biggest worry now. Will we get the timely rains to optimize yield?
 
So far, so good. It’s difficult to put into words how beautiful this spring has been. Even our hogs seem to be happier. Herd health is good. We shipped a trailer load to market on Thursday. The hog business is finally in the black after 2 ½ years of red ink. Our pigs were starting to get an inferiority complex, but not any more. We have been raising pigs for ever. I remember as a 10-year-old boy how proud I was of the Duroc gilt that I showed at the Knox County 4-H show. I kept her and raised a litter of pigs the next year. A baby pig just born might weigh 2 pounds and within 5 months of tender care and perfect feed will go to market weighing 270 pounds. Amazing!
 
Now, that is efficient feed conversion.
 
I know that it’s easy to get discouraged when things don’t go well, but when everything is working, there is no place quite as satisfying as down on the farm.
 
In closing, I would encourage you to access my website which archives my radio commentaries dating back 10 years and will go back 20 years when complete. Check on what I said back then. Go to www.johnblockreports.com.
 
Until next week, I am John Block in Washington.
 
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