Take time to breathe this seeding season

Overwhelming — that’s how spring can feel as you try to get everything lined up for seeding.

Initially, it’s too wet for a lot of preparatory jobs. You can’t start working on the drill until you can get hooked to it and get it parked on a dry spot in the yard.

Some producers have inside storage for their drill and cart. In our case, we park the cart in a pole shed but leave the drill outside. The tractor, drill and cart need to be remarried each spring and it’s always a process.

Where does this cable hook and how did we run the electrical? Between the seed cart monitor, GPS guidance, blockage monitors and cameras in each cart compartment, there’s a maze of wires.

This year, our biggest problem was oil flow to the cart fan. We frittered away a couple hours before figuring out that the problem was in the big hose connections between the drill and cart. While they appeared to be properly seated, they were in fact not pressed together quite far enough.

Oh well, no use crying over a bit of lost time and hydraulic oil.

When the fan was finally running, several air leaks appeared around hose fittings and manifolds. Funny how things that were working a year ago now need attention. I’m sure everyone else has stories of equipment prep work that didn’t proceed as smoothly as expected.

Beyond the seeding outfit, the spraying operation needs to be recommissioned with chem handler, hoses, pump, water truck and the array of herbicides that will be used.

Thankfully, this isn’t the maiden voyage for any of our seeding equipment. Introducing a major change in the equipment lineup can take additional time and effort.

Seed acquisition and seed treating are other chores that need to be completed. Ideally, this would have been all organized last fall and through the winter, but in reality a lot of the tasks are often delayed until the spring, thereby adding to the workload.

Any last minute alterations to seeding plans can also create more work. The best laid plans sometimes need to be adjusted for weather conditions. If the land is drying quickly with no rain expected, you might plant a shallow seeded crop earlier than initially intended. Or you might adjust the seeding order based on concerns over late spring frosts.

Perhaps you’re making last minute changes based on market conditions and the Statistics Canada seeding intentions report that contradicts many of the projections made by analysts.

While we all pride ourselves on independent decision making, it’s amazing how much we’re influenced by what the neighbours are doing.

“Jake is always the first one to start seeding and he isn’t going yet, so I guess there’s no hurry,” is the kind of comment often heard.

Alternatively, at some point the comment will become a lament: “The Millers already have 800 acres in the ground and we haven’t even started.”

Whenever I feel overburdened, I consider the grain producers who also run cow-calf operations. For many, it was a calving season from hell, and they’re now trying to get cattle moved out to pasture while possibly also trying to clean some corrals and spread manure.

Yes, spring has finally arrived, but remember to breathe. Take time to be kind to the people you’re working with. That will help make the workload seem a little less overwhelming.

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