Farmers work year-round caring for crops and livestock. Their tasks change with the seasons – planting and sowing in spring, nurturing crops in summer, harvesting in fall, and planning and maintenance in winter. Farmers apply expertise to grow healthy, bountiful crops and livestock in a sustainable manner.
Farming follows an annual cycle that aligns with the seasons. The types of work farmers need to perform varies significantly depending on the time of year.
Farmers must complete specialized tasks during each season in order to successfully grow crops and maintain their farms.
Spring is when new growth emerges after the dormancy of winter. For farmers, springtime marks the start of the growing season.
Their primary focus is on planting and getting crops established.
- Planting Crops – Choosing which varieties to plant and sowing seeds in fields, gardens, greenhouses or hydroponic systems during the optimal window for each type of crop. This requires planning and preparation.
- Tilling Fields – Tilling or plowing fields before planting helps loosen and aerate the soil, removes debris, and evens out bumps and furrows to create a smooth, loose seedbed for planting. This can be done with hand tools for small operations or with tractors outfitted with tilling equipment for large fields. Multiple passes are made to break up compacted soil.
- Applying Herbicides – Pre-emergence herbicides target weeds before they sprout, helping crops get established without early weed competition. Timing and proper application technique is key for good efficacy.
For a full breakdown of spring, check out this article here, The Spring To-Do List for Farmers
The focus shifts to growing thriving crops during the peak production months of summer.
Farmers nurture their fields to maximize yields.
- Growing Crops – Caring for plants by supplying proper nutrients, pruning, staking, monitoring for pests and diseases, and using integrated pest management strategies when issues arise. Managing water availability through rainfall capture or irrigation systems.
- Irrigation – In regions without sufficient natural rainfall, irrigation systems must be utilized to supply water to crops. This may include drip irrigation, overhead sprinklers, or flood irrigation. Farmers monitor soil moisture levels and run irrigation on a carefully managed schedule.
- Pest Control – Managing damaging insect pests, diseases, and weeds through strategies like introducing beneficial insects, altering irrigation, using row covers, rotating crops, etc. Pesticides are applied as-needed using strict safety precautions.
For a full breakdown of summer, check out this article here, What Farmers Do During the Summer Months
Fall is harvest time, the busiest time of year for most farm operations. Key activities include:
- Harvesting Crops – Collecting mature crops from the fields and gardens at their peak ripeness. Different equipment like tractors, combines or hand tools are used depending on the crop type and scale. Crops must be harvested within their small windows of ideal maturity.
- Storing Crops – Crops are stored to preserve them for later use and maintain quality. Grains go into silos, root vegetables into refrigerated units, hay into barns. Proper post-harvest storage methods are vital.
- Field Preparation – After harvest, fields are tilled over, cover crops may be planted to manage nutrients and prevent soil erosion, and irrigation systems are winterized. Fields are prepped for next year.
For a full breakdown of fall, check out this article here, From Harvest To Preparation: See What Farmers Do In The Fall
Winter is the slowest time on the farm.
Farmers shift gears to planning and infrastructure upkeep.
- Planning – Farmers make strategic plans for the upcoming growing season such as ordering seeds, purchasing supplies, choosing which crops to plant, and mapping out crop rotations.
- Equipment Maintenance – With no crops in the ground, winter provides time for general farm maintenance like servicing tractors and implements, repairing buildings, and overhauling irrigation systems.
- Rest and Recharge – The slower winter pace gives farmers a chance to recharge before another busy growing season begins. Annual maintenance tasks are completed.
For a full breakdown of winter, check out this article here, The Surprising Things Farmers Do In Wintertime
While specific tasks vary greatly by region, crop, scale, and farm type, farmers must work year-round to nurture their land and operations.
Careful management during each distinct season cycle leads to agricultural success.
Farming is not just the stereotypical image of a farmer on a tractor in the summer.
It is a year-round endeavor that requires diverse skills and diligent work.
The cyclical nature of agriculture means that farmers must adapt their workload and responsibilities to align with the seasons.
Planting, growing, harvesting, storing, planning, and maintaining, farmers complete specialized tasks in every season in order to sustainably and successfully grow the food we all eat.
Their diligence in managing the seasonal farming calendar benefits not just their farms but supports food production for our society.
The next time you sit down to a meal, consider the year-round efforts of farmers that helped bring that food to your table.