It’s once again that time of year. Fall harvest is all but complete and everyone is ready for a break and for some it’s time to catch their breath. As most of you know we usually don’t get a chance to slow down and, believe it or not, for some “break/vacation” may not even be in their dictionary. As harvest winds down, thoughts that were once pushed aside come back up in your mind, and once again you are on the go. Whether it is trying to spend time with the family, fall field work or moving cattle out to stalks; everyone has a list of to-do’s. Then your phone starts ringing or a very familiar truck pulls into the yard, and it is your UFC sales person wanting to start planning for next year when this year is not even complete. Every year it seems like it is earlier and earlier but there is so much importance to having a plan as the farming world evolves and becomes more complex and more volatile.
First, we need to step back and look at our year. Were we happy with our crops this year? Are there different decisions or practices we would like to change or try next year? How was our overall performance of our crops? There are a lot of questions to be asked and answers to be discovered. Questions are the easiest way to start spurring some thoughts and this could lead you back to something in the spring that you wanted to change. In addition, identifying what your hopes and goals are for this coming year is very important.
Soil sampling is next on our list. It is important to see where our nutrient values are, before making recommendations. Our AcreEdge Advantage program is a great fit for the soil sampling piece of the plan, so we can evaluate how our nutrient levels are changing year to year. Once the samples are pulled, we can start planning what crop we are going to plant where. Current commodity prices, fertilizer prices, weather, herbicide restriction and plant-back, water restrictions and many other factors come into this. It is imperative to start talking through the different scenarios to ensure that we get the best start in the whole farm planning process.
Making seed selections early is also an important factor in planning. With the past couple years of drought and weather events, it has proven to be very important to lock in key varieties and hybrids to ensure we can get the desired hybrids for your unique field conditions. As we all know, there is a lot of information flooding producers every fall after harvest. Wading through plot data and side-by-side’s can be very frustrating and confusing. We will be by your side during this planning process and help our producers select and place the right hybrids in the right environments.
Once we have our soil sample results back and we have decided on what crop we are going to plant where, we can start building a fertilizer recommendation. While trying to build an accurate and efficient fertilizer recommendation, a lot of factors can come into place. Crop nutrient removal rates, soil nutrient values, as well as realistic yield goals for this coming year all play a big part in building the farm plan. If one of these factors is missing, it is hard to come up with the best recipe.
Next we need to start thinking chemicals. Each year we seem to stumble upon a new weed that we have trouble killing. The earlier we get our plan in place the sooner we can start to combat our pesky weeds. Fall burn-down is starting to become more popular. The smaller the weed the better control we get and if we can prevent the weeds from even emerging, that is best.
There are many advantages to have a plan, and with a plan in place now, we can rest easy…..or at least feel good that we have a plan in place. As we all know, plans change, and we can much better adapt to changes if we have a Plan A to start with. Now that we have an idea of what inputs and how much seed, fertilizer and chemical we will need, we can take advantage of early buying discounts. The plan will help us help you by making sure inventories are in place to cover all of your needs. Also we can start looking at our commodity prices and determine if there are advantages to locking in some prices for next fall in addition to locking in a margin with your grain. One of our main goals for planning is to take some stress away from your busy spring season. Last year we definitely saw a crazy spring. Our window for field work, planting and spraying was very compressed at times. If we need to start applying fertilizer or chemical we can do that as soon as possible. It is a lot easier to make these decisions when we are not stressed about not having time to get everything done. If you have any questions or want to set down and put a plan together, contact your local UFC Field Sales Agronomist and we can start building your plan today.