Don't Abandon Ship

March 7, 2019

3.7.19 | Don't Abandon Ship from Central Valley Ag on Vimeo.

Don’t abandon ship just because we don’t know when it is leaving – Preperation

Next February, if somebody tries to tell me about what a woodchuck in Pennsylvania says about our weather, I am going to request that we have that person sent to Antarctica. There is no doubt by now that this spring is going to present some challenges that we are all not really excited about. Those challenges will begin with a “late” start, include mud, and will test our nerves. However, we all need to remain calm and realize that this is nothing which we haven’t dealt with before. Just because we don’t know exactly what the coming weeks will bring, we do know that we will get to put a crop in this spring, and we can’t abandon ship just because we don’t know when it is going to leave.

So first and foremost on our minds right now is the fertility work that still needs to be completed. I know many of you still have P, K, and Lime products to get on your fields this spring because of the weather challenges that go all the way back to December. Some still have soil sampling that needs to be finished. When the rubber meets the road, I know some of you will be tempted to forgo this spring work for a variety of reasons, with the biggest two being; budget and the notion that it can go on next fall. If I may, I would like to challenge this from a couple of aspects. As I look at this today, I see I can sell Dec 19 corn into Columbus for $3.75, and a crop removal application of P and K with application is around $70. That comes out to be about 19 bushel of corn as a break even. Now, I know that on paper, it would help our break evens for this year to cut $70 from our budget. So let’s say we have a 220 bu yield goal, and we are going to save this $70 this year. Are we still going to be able to hit our 220 yield goal? Maybe yes, and maybe no. Are we going to hit 240 or 250 if weather conditions are right? Probably not. The 2019 crop removal program is feeding our potential, just as much as our goals.

But let’s go another step further. So I decide to skip this application for convenience to my schedule and my pocketbook. As I look forward to 2020 crop inputs, is my budget for fertilizer going to double so I can make up for skipping 2019. I seriously doubt it! Then if I am not going to be able to recover from the nutrient mining of my P and K next year, there are two realities I will have to face. First, I will need to recover at some point, because my soil tests will show it, and second, while it may not affect future yield goals, it will affect your future potential.

The next area that I worry about people possibly skipping is their soybean pre-emerge. With spring work happening in a smaller window, I know that every year we see growers decide not to follow through on the plan for a pre-plant soybean herbicide. I again have to caution against writing this off at this point. As we look at resistance to in-season herbicides continuing to grow across the Midwest, we must maintain an integrated approach to keep as many options on the table as we can. Taking Modes of Action away from our farms may be a short term gain (convenience for 2019) but a long term loss.

And then finally, there is your equipment. Now, I know that your planter is tucked away in the corner of the shed, dry and out of the way. But waiting to begin maintenance and preparation is asking for trouble. If something has to give on April 15th as the itch to begin planting intensifies, and it is between Nitrogen application, hauling grain, spraying, and fieldwork, I am pretty confident that the maintenance of your planter will be the thing that goes to the back burner. As they say, time heals all wounds, and the issues that you swore you would never forget as the crop came up last spring, are but a distant memory now. The last thing we want to do is wait for the right conditions, start planting, and then have to tear the planter apart to make it field ready.

In a nutshell, the word of the month is preparation. We cannot afford to wait until the snow is gone and the weather is warm to begin our preparations for this spring. We must build and commit to a plan with our trusted advisors to prioritize what is going to be done. We must get equipment out and do maintenance, even if it means we have to move snow around it a time or two in March. And we must prepare ourselves mentally, because we know there will be a day or two when the wheels fall off of the plan. That is why we have a plan, so we don’t lose focus and momentum on what our goals are for the year.

By Keith Byerly

Posted: 3/7/2019 11:15:44 AM by Kelli Emanuel | with 0 comments