Are we there yet? Are we there YET? Are we THERE YET? ARE WE THERE YET? Those words can get on your nerves in a hurry. As a farmer, right now at harvest time, we are looking forward to the end of our trip that is called harvest. The only thing is, even when we reach our destination of being done with harvest the next journey has already started. The next journey is the selection of the corn hybrids and soybean varieties we will use for the next growing season.

Throughout harvest we watch, study, measure, analyze and, in general, put a lot of thought into what we need for next year to do the “best job” we can growing our crops. Doing our “best job” means wise use of soil, water, pesticides, fertilizers, machinery, genetics and money. We want to make the most out of all these inputs while insuring the health of our environment and the crops we produce. 

Cornfield where stalk strength and ear attachment (ear shank) were weak. You should be able to see rows. Corn blew over in strong winds and ears fell to the ground. This is the unpredictable weather that can cause a detour from the expected route. Harvest consumed more fuel and time. Grain could not be picked up from the ground. Some farmers will be able to use livestock to make use of this downed corn.


Cornfield where stalk strength and ear attachment were stronger. You can still see rows of corn plants. Corn stalks could withstand the strong winds and grain could be harvested more efficiently. Livestock may still be put on this field as leaves and husks are valuable feed sources.

By choosing the right hybrids or varieties we can

  • reduce our need for certain pesticides—crops may have resistance to a certain insect or disease so a pesticide doesn’t need to be applied
  • keep water use from irrigation as low as possible—certain hybrids are bred to withstand longer periods without water or use less water overall
  • harvest crops efficiently and easily—when the crop is able to be harvested efficiently less fuel is used and more of what has grown can be harvested (See pictures for more on this topic.)
  • keep soil resources healthy and productive for generations—with wise variety selection  soil health and productivity is enhanced from year to year.

As farmers attempt to select the hybrids and varieties that will help them accomplish their goals, they are always aware that many factors can’t be controlled. Primarily, weather and all its variations can spoil even the most well thought out journey.  Regardless, we try to do our “best job” of producing a crop.

 ARE WE THERE YET? Farmers may be reaching the end of harvest but believe me we are already studying the map and planning the route to the next destination in order to continue to produce the food and fiber we all need.





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