The Decision to Replant
May 30, 2017
There a few more dreaded aspects of row-crop farming than replanting. To begin with, you must admit failure. Not our favorite activity. It doesn’t help if your adjacent neighbor planted on a slightly different date and his field looks great by comparison.
The other problem is with windshield surveys. A slowly emerging crop can be cruelly deceptive. For the last few weeks, the common farmer cross-talk around here was all about how the corn was still coming up. While we almost convinced ourselves, after four weeks mostly what is happening is a trick of perspective. The plants that have emerged are just getting tall enough to make the row viewed from the road appear to be pretty solid-ish.
This leads to what I think is the worst part of replanting: deciding how much can be saved – if any. Invariably we get a few bags to fill in the wet spots only to discover in the field a much vaster area of pitiful stands.
Option A: Do you rip the whole field up and start over? Depending on your dealer policy on replant seed pricing this may be the most attractive choice except when the calendar is running out. While a fresh start looks appealing, there will always be a few survivors from the first planting to remind you all season of the do-over.
Option B: you can spot in the bad areas, but this triggers another decision. Do you till them first, creating patchwork fields? Or drive the field dropping and lifting the planter, ending up with areas that may have under and over-populated rows side-by side. It also is emotionally exhausting. The decisions you make during the first hour of replanting are different from the ones you make hours later, I’ve learned.
To all of you replanting or heaven forbid, re-replanting, I share your pain. First hand. I have never found any rationalization that can make this experience anything but unpleasant. And if you take meager quiet comfort that others around you are in the same or worse circumstances, that doesn’t make you a bad person.