I’m not normally superstitious and I’m not very religious, but we had an awful first day of seeding on Easter Sunday.
There are typically kinks to work out with equipment on the first day you hit the field, but we worked liked dogs all day to accomplish nothing. The problem was the seed cart. Despite adequate fan velocity, we couldn’t get proper airflow to carry seed and fertilizer.
We spent the day tinkering with settings, trying to seed and then laboriously unplugging the unit. As the day after dawned, we needed to find the source of the problem. We had a few ideas, but no solutions.
A new fan motor was installed last fall. Could the hydraulic lines to the motor be hooked up backward causing the fan to rotate the wrong direction? Could some sort of blockage exist in the air ducts leading to the seed manifold? Can we gain access to find out? Is something else going on that we haven’t considered?
Meanwhile, the lifespan of the inoculant on the seed in the drill has now expired. We’ll need to remove the seed, inoculate it again and put it back in the cart before we restart.
This is a few days to a week earlier than our usual seeding start and I can never remember seeding on Easter. I might avoid doing it again.
When you think about it, superstition is rather rampant in agriculture. Lots of people have their own little beliefs and quirks either developed over time or handed down from previous generations.
The old saying, “seed into dust and your bins will bust,” is true some years, but obviously not others. Maybe it’s a way to screw up your courage to bury expensive inputs in dry soil. Maybe people like the saying for the nice rhyme.
Either way, people are very superstitious about weather, particularly farmers. There’s often the opinion that you’ll eventually pay for good weather with inclement weather. Some still try to relate rain events to 30, 60 or 90 days after a fog. If that were at all reliable, you’d think we’d have it figured out by now.
To be fair, modern long-range weather forecasts are still incredibly unreliable and ambiguous. Really, they should be considered more superstition than science. Inherently we know there’s limited accuracy with any forecast beyond a couple weeks, but we can’t seem to ignore them.
Superstition, or something like it, also affects the cropping choices and marketing of some producers. For instance, you’ll often meet contrarians — farmers who like to bet on long shots. If the durum market is depressed with analysts saying it’s a dog, they’ll seed more durum, betting on a market turnaround.
Being contrarian is not always a bad strategy, but often it’s based on a hunch rather than analysis of the situation. There’s a saying for this too. I believe I heard it first from former Saskatchewan Premier Grant Devine many years ago.
“Plant a cheap seed,” he said. In other words, seed crops where the price is depressed and there’s little demand for seed because that crop could end up in short supply.
We all know people bothered by a black cat crossing their path. If you break a mirror, someone is likely to tell you that it brings seven years of bad luck.
For me, it’s seed on Easter Sunday and it won’t be a fun day.
Footnote: The fan was turning backward