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ARCHIVES

Talking ‘bout the weather

By Carroll Smith
Editor
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Having grown up as a farmer’s daughter, I know what an important topic of conversation the weather is to producers. The weather report is the first thing they check on in the morning, and, during the day, it’s hard to say how many times they turn their faces upward, studying the sky for the slightest sign of rain clouds.

I even remember when one of the first “high-tech” weather devices came out that farmers could actually carry around with them in their trucks. It was a little weather information contraption that NOAA came out with. Farmers today, of course, have much more sophisticated weather technology right at their fingertips.

This past season I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time out in the field, so I felt just as cognizant of the weather as the farmers were. My first trip was a visit to California’s rice fields in April. The weather was absolutely gorgeous – cool mornings, followed by pleasant temperatures during the day. The rest of my forays into the field took place in the Mid-South where I experienced what LSU AgCenter rice specialist Johnny Saichuk dubbed “the long, hot summer” in his Specialists Speaking comments.

The scariest heat I encountered was actually out in a field in bootheel Missouri while I was interviewing a farmer and taking some photos. I suddenly realized it was really hot, so I wrapped everything up pretty quickly and jumped back into my air conditioned car. I found out later that it was 106 degrees F that day, with a heat index of 121 degrees F.

Even Mississippi rice specialist Nathan Buehring spoke about the extreme summer heat in his comments. “There was a string of about five days at the first of August where the daytime temperature was about 105 degrees F, and nighttime temperatures were around 79 degrees F.” From the standpoint of production, rice yields and milling quality reflected the hit the crop took from the weather, too.

Although I typically think in terms of how the weather affects produc-tion, it can also influence the market. Markham Dossett, owner and chief broker of Talon Asset Management, LLC, in Waco, Texas, points out in the article “Marketing Strategies” on pages 5 and 6, “Unusual weather events that occur throughout the year can affect commodity prices because we are in a global market. That’s why it’s important to scale into your selling – take a measured approach executed over a period of months.”

So, the next time you’re checking out the weather, don’t forget to move past what’s happening on your own “back 40” and look at what’s happening in the rest of the world. The profit you’d like to reap may depend on it.

Send your comments to: Editor, Rice Farming Magazine, 5118 Park Ave., Suite 111, Memphis, Tenn., 38117. Call (901) 767-4020 or e-mail csmith@onegrower.com.

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