One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Philippians 4:6, which says, “Don’t worry about anything.”
Jokingly, I often ask farmers, “Does that verse say ‘Don’t worry about anything when the corn price is over $7’?”
As human beings, we are inclined to worry, often about things we can’t control. Over the summer, these were some of the headlines that “worried” farmers:
- “New insect, gall midge, could devastate your soybean yields”
- “Farmers are now facing ‘super weeds’”
- “China and U.S. impose trade tariffs, damaging U.S. farm export market and commodity prices”
- “It’s going to rain … or not”
OK, the last one I just threw in there for fun, because what farmer doesn’t worry about rain, either too much or too little? With the other three headlines, while things may look bleak as I write this article, I want to share my thoughts on each one.
First, while we are certainly concerned about the gall midge, we have only seen it on a tiny percentage of U.S. soybean acres. This insect is a fly in the adult stage. It lays eggs inside soybean stems. Those eggs then hatch as worms that feed safely inside the soybean plant. We have found yields damaged as much as 90 percent. However, gall midge is often primarily on field borders, and multiple applications of a $2 insecticide can lessen the numbers.
Next, the “super weed” comment is one that really cracks me up. There is no such thing as a super weed; no, not even Palmer pigweed or waterhemp or marestail or kochia. We can still control them all quite effectively with a planned approach. In addition to herbicide use, perhaps the No. 1 thing we always stress is crop canopy. Getting a crop up quickly and feeding it properly to create a lush, dense canopy is the best thing any farmer can do to choke out weeds.
In terms of trade with China, I believe we will work something out, especially since China needs the U.S. as a trading partner. Since China wants tech and ag products primarily, I have to assume that bodes well for U.S. ag exports in the future. I don’t know when that will be, but as a farmer I can store my crop for several months until I need to sell it. In other words, I’ve got some time before I need or want the markets to come up.
Here is what I want to leave you with today: Have you ever noticed how many headlines are written in a way that would make the average person worry? Whether you are a farmer or not, I encourage you to focus on what you can control. For example, as a farmer I am responsible for seed selection, soil testing, fertilizer and soil amendment application, water management (drainage and irrigation), how and when I plant the seed, how and when I harvest the crop, and a whole bunch of things in between. The better I do with what I can control, the more yield and profit I will make. Yes, there are many things I can’t control that affect my farm, but if I can’t control them, what good does worrying do? Worrying will only wear me out and keep me from staying focused on what I can achieve.
The title of this article is “Worry Less. Farm More.” I’m not saying to farm more acres. I’m saying, spend more of your time farming and less of your time worrying. If you are a non-farmer, the same principle holds true: Stay busy working and focusing on what you can control, and in the long run, you will come out ahead.