If there is one thing April 2012 should be teaching anyone not already aware of it, weather ultimately determines farming.
Farmers have garnered a reputation of never being completely happy, and the fact they spend most of the time between spring thaw and the first snows of the next winter watching the weather has a lot to do with that.
The truth is perfection in weather for farmers is almost an unattainable dream.
That said even having a good year is something so based in weather patterns that one actually has to wonder how they ever grow a crop.
The recent weather is a prime example.
When the snow disappeared in March and the sun allowed people out on the streets in their shortsleeves for a few days, there was the prospect of an early spring. Farmers had to be thinking about getting to the fields early.
April has changed that. Rain, snow and cold has reminded us all just how fickle Prairie weather can be, and how quickly it can change.
The recent weekend certainly reaffirmed that for me. Saturday in Moose Jaw it was warm, and shortsleeve weather, even into the evening.
Sunday morning as we left the southern city the temperature was plus-six, and it steadily declined all the way back to Yorkton where we arrived to minus-four temperatures, having drove through freezing rain for half the trip.
That rain turned to snow and once again things went white.
Forecasts for the week ahead are not going to set any records for warm either.
While spring moving back to a more normal time in terms of farmers hitting the field is not a major concern, the fact is weather only needs to be bad a week, or two longer than normal, and the spring seed window could tighten significantly for farmers.
And that is something, those of us who head to the grocery store fully expecting the aisles to be well-stocked with safe food, we need to appreciate, farming is a very precise undertaking in terms of ideal weather.
Farmers can buy the best seed, optimize soil nutrients with fertilizer, and have advances on their side such as global positioning systems, and still lose a crop to a late spring frost.
Too much spring moisture, as has been the case in many areas in both 2010 and 2011 can leave acres idle, too wet to seed.
A hot streak in July as canola is flowering can impact the amount of pods which ultimately produce seeds.
A dry week as crops fills their heads can reduce yields.
An early fall frost reduces grades.
So when we hear farmers complaining that it is too hot, or dry, or too cold, and wet, it is because the ideal to produce a crop in an elusive thing.
And when you consider the investment of farming, both in terms of money, and effort, and realize it hinges ultimately on weather for a grain farmer to be successful, it explains both the preoccupation with weather farmers have, and their tendency to rarely be completely satisfied with what the weatherman is saying.
Calvin Daniels is Assistant Editor of Yorkton This Week.