Farmer Iron

Cultivators and Planters Report

It's a few weeks - just a few - before the ground warms enough for work in the Midwest. Are you getting ready?

Monday, Feb. 14, is the first true sign of spring in our household. That's when pitchers and catchers report for spring training, which means warmer weather can't be far behind. Living in Minnesota, you really do seek out those signs of spring whether you live in town or are involved in corn farming. CORRECTION: OK I got too optimistic, and the date is this Thursday - but you know we Minnesotans look for spring everywhere we can!

I know my Southern friends are already in the field - although this winter that's probably a bigger challenge than ever before. And in California, are you ever really out of the field? But for the traditional Midwest reader, shaking off the bonds of winter will be harder this year than ever before.

Yet we must. So consider next week your spring training. Is the planter ready to roll? Or are you planning some modifications, upgrades or just simple maintenance to get that machine running. Ordering parts for maintenance to get equipment ready now will save hassles later. The same goes for any ground-engaging tools you like to use to get the seedbed ready.

Over the past few years, I think more farmers have upgraded their shops so they can have a warm place to get equipment ready to roll (and to play basketball when you're not doing repairs - the b-ball hoop is a common accessory in the shops I've been in lately). And that's a super investment because equipment maintenance remains a critical task to maximize your investment.

As you get that equipment ready for spring 2011, enjoy the moment. This is the start of another season with prices at a new level - again. While market volatility is probably weighing on your mind, focusing on getting your iron ready to rumble can help take your mind of risk management and center on something else: timely planting of that new crop.

But what are the signs of spring you seek out? What little markers along the way help you keep a lighter look on the day when you're pushing snow with the blade just to get hay to your cattle? Drop me a note at [email protected], or registered users can comment below. Truly, spring will get here.

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