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2008--A year of extremes

By Richard C. Snell
Barton County Extension Agent, agriculture


I never thought I would see the price of oil, grain, fertilizer, and many other commodities go from record highs to extraordinary lows in one year. Even the stock market topped out in late 2007 at it's all time high and then is still hovering at a little over half of that value recently.

That's the kind of year it has been in 2008--a year of extremes. Even the weather went "squirrely" at times. Take recently when we went about a week or days without it getting above freezing. When it finally hit 32 degrees one morning, even with the wind blowing, everyone went outside and said, "wow, this is nice."

By the same token, we have had several 60 degree plus daytime highs in December, setting a record on a couple of those occasions.

This past weekend really illustrates on a state-wide basis how crazy it was. We didn't have much in our area but my brother-in-law from Topeka said they had thunder and lightning nearly all night and had over an inch of rain. Upon checking the official reports the next day, nearly everyone east of the Kansas Turnpike had over an inch. He also said they had been in a tornado watch.

I talked to Charles Atkinson a couple of days ago and he said they were in tornado warnings near Columbus, down in southeast Kansas, where he was visiting his parents and they had more than 2 inches of rain. He thought for the year they had over 70 inches of rain. That's like 28 inches or more over for the year. Contrast that with the severe drought they had in southwest Kansas most of the year until late this fall.

We were blessed locally with about 30 to 35 inches of rain (33 inches at my house) this year. That's about 8 inches over normal. Not meaning to brag, but most farmers benefitted by having a good wheat crop and the best fall crops they ever had. We had tremendous yields on dryland corn, sorghum and soybeans in general. As a matter of fact, the dryland crops beat the irrigated on all but the corn. It was so wet that timing made the hay crop a little more average. Even the few acres of sunflowers did well and the pastures did well also. About the only crop locally that did not do well was the canola and we aren't fully sure what happened there.

The fly in the ointment was the hail that hit several times on the wheat just before harvest. Several areas in the county suffered serious yield losses, but generally the wheat did well where the hail missed.

Next week I will touch more on price swings and the dry start we had.

Calving school

Want some knowledge on how to wean more calves? The public library in Ellsworth will be the site of a calving management school for beef cow-calf producers on Jan. 7, at 5:30 p.m. Reservations for the meal should be made by calling, 785-472-4442, as soon as possible.

Presenters will be Dr. Bob Mortimer, Colorado State University DVM, who is the one that has done all the difficult birth videos we have shown. Also on the program will be Dale Grotelueschen, DVM, Pfizer Animal Health.

They will talk about colostrum and substitutes, cow herd management impacts on calf health, and when and how to give assistance.

The FACT Conference

There are a number of different meetings in January but one that I will be going to will be the FACT Conference in Liberal, Jan. 13 and 14. FACT is Farmers, Agriculture, Conservation and Technology. It will be held at the Seward County Activity Center. Pre-registration is only $50 for both days if sent by Jan. 7.

Topics will include: conservation, leasing, bio-energy, innovations, market swings, financial options, farm bill changes and input costs. A number of good speakers from K-State, Oklhoma State and private industry will be on hand. There will also be an excellent trade show. The event is sponsored by the Great Plains Alliance of No-Till on the Plains.

If you would like a ride and would like to share motel expenses, e-mail me at rsnell@oznet.ksu.edu or give me a call at 620-793-1910. I hope to take a van load.

1 Star WK\5-B

Date: 12/31/08

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