SIKESTON -- Joe Priggel may have spent some time duck hunting earlier this week, but the New Madrid County farmer insists he and his peers have plenty to keep them busy during their "off season."
"You could work all year and keep busy with farming," Priggel said.
From servicing equipment and cleaning the exterior and interior of tractors to wrapping up year-end business, these are just a few things farmers do to keep busy during winter, pointed out Priggel.
Anthony Ohmes, agronomist with the Mississippi County Extension Office in Charleston, agreed.
"All of that keeps you pretty darn busy for the entire winter," Ohmes said. "Right now farmers are, in addition to their daily routine work, doing anything from fence row cleanup to field work during the winter months."
Farmers typically have a break from planting and harvesting crops from about Thanksgiving through Feb. 1, Priggel said. "Farming is very diverse throughout the whole state, but we've got a lot of dedicated growers in Southeast Missouri," Ohmes said. "Probably the majority are full-time farmers and a lot of them do part-time farming."
Since farmers are typically out of the fields during winter, the University of Missouri Extension schedules most of its meetings for farmers in December, January and February, Ohmes noted.
Topics discussed at meetings range from soybean rust, crop management, weed and insect management, disease management to general production, fertility and other general topics.
And sometimes farm equipment dealerships will hold a customer appreciation dinner/lunch and some type of informative meeting about products, said Jerry Aufdenberg, owner of Aufdenberg Equipment Co. in Sikeston. For example, John Deere is conducting a meeting about its new products for farmers this week in Tunica, Miss., he said.
"If you really wanted to you could go to a meeting every day and if not that, there's a lot of record keeping for farmers to contend with," Ohmes said.
Aufdenberg agreed there's plenty of paperwork for farmers to do this time of year.
"During the winter months is when farmers get their tax work in order and some are involved in planning and purchasing," Aufdenberg said. "And a lot of it is done earlier each year, and they plan more ahead of time to get the right equipment."
Planting season for corn, depending on the part of the state, usually begins toward the end of March then the season pretty much moves into full swing, Ohmes noted.
"In the winter, they're trying to figure out how much fertilizer and where to plant what. They get out the county maps out and plan what goes to where," Ohmes said.
Farmers are also dealing with wheat throughout the cold season, and they're looking at wheat fields as soon as it starts getting warm, Ohmes said.
"The bigger farmers have more men on the payroll and try to utilize the winter months and keep them busy. That way when the weather gets better, they are ready," Aufdenburg said. Of course there's always things that can be done in the shop, both Aufdenberg and Ohmes pointed out.
"There's a lot of upkeep that needs to be done," Ohmes said. "I talked to one farmer the other day and he's taking off all blades of the disk and replacing them. That's a job that takes pretty much a whole week to do."
Ohmes said farmers servicing their equipment can be compared to that of a car, but on a bigger scale.
"There are also paint jobs to be done," Ohmes said. "Just the shop alone could keep you busy every day of the year -- a lot of the farmers just don't have the time during busier times of the year."