INDIANA — Drivers will need to be ready to share the road over the long holiday weekend as many farmers will also be out.
For local farmers and ag suppliers, the fall of 2018 was one they would prefer not to repeat. Frequent rains kept farmers and agricultural suppliers out of the fields. This prevented the usual fall tillage, fertilizer application and other field preparation that is required for a farmer to produce a crop. In some cases, the extreme wet conditions even delayed 2018 harvest until much later in the winter. So far for the spring of 2019, the weather has prevented much of field work.
According to Senior Risk Manager Phil Pirtle of Ceres Solutions Cooperative, USDA reports for Indiana indicate that, as of May 19, only 14 percent of the corn crop has been planted, compared to 86 percent on May 19, 2018. Soybean planting report is six percent (2019) versus 70% last year at this time (2018). “While those of us who work in agriculture are confident that farmers will still plant and harvest a crop, we are all aware that the timing to complete an enormous amount of work is being compressed.”
Every day now, when the weather permits work in the fields, local farmers and agricultural supply companies (such as Ceres Solutions) will be on the roads. Teams must take every opportunity to make as much progress in the field as possible. Most fall and pre-planting preparation still needs to be completed, as well as the traditional planting requirements to get the crop in the ground.
“Our advisory is this,” says Pirtle. “Be aware that state and county roads will be occupied even more frequently than ever by large pieces of agriculture equipment, tender trucks and vehicles pulling tanks, as well as vehicles delivering seed and plant nutrition to the fields. We are headed into an unusually pressured time frame where significant work must be done quickly and safely.”
Follow these road safety tips for the next several weeks:
- Expect more equipment to share the roads, and expect vehicles out at earlier and later hours
- Plan alternative routes or if possible, just stay off the roads at dawn and dusk
- Allow extra time for slow moving vehicles
- Pass only with extreme caution and courtesy
- Watch for parked vehicles at roadside which are supplying farm equipment in the fields
- Give extra space to any vehicles towing anhydrous ammonia tanks
- Be aware that support vehicles will all be on the road at once, unlike usual planting seasons
- Watch for highway crews who are also doing maintenance, road repairs and mowing operations
- Familiarize yourself with local road restrictions for wide loads or local construction zones
- Be extremely intentional in communicating this alert to teenage drivers in your home
- Warn guests traveling to our community for the race, for visits or events to expect delays
- Protect yourself and those who work in local agriculture. Be patient. Slow down. Stay safe.