by Brady Kinneman  bradyk@agpartners.net

This is the time of the year where growers are making “hard” decisions for the 2018 growing season.  You most likely have your inputs purchased for 2018 but how do you use them in an effective manner to optimize yield in 2018?  I mean “anybody can buy seed, fertilizer, and chemical and grow a crop”, but is that respectable enough in today’s market?  Here is a check list you should be considering over the next 30 days.

Develop a Plan:  Yes, times are challenging in the Ag Industry in all areas and it’s time we sit down and look at the numbers.  Farming comes down to probabilities and ROIs.  Is it fair to say, “controlling probability we can minimize risk and increase ROI”?  Yes, mother nature will sway us one direction or another, but we need to look at the long-term goal and what we can control.  If mother nature throws us a bone you don’t want to get caught with average yields.  Anybody can be a low-cost producer, but we can’t be low production producers.  Create a balance sheet so you know what your costs and break evens are going to be.

Seed:  Profile your farms for production.  Look at response scores to population, nitrogen, rotation, soil type, and fungicide.  Placing your hybrids on the right field is worth 15 bu/ac.  Seed is expensive and if you don’t have the management information with your seed purchase the risk of losing $45/ac could become a reality.

Fertilizer/Fertility:  Key thing is to grid sample.  Know where your farms are at on pH, P, and K to know your potential of the farms.  This way we can create ROI situations and allocate nutrients to portions of the field that need them the most.  DON’T over think it.  I don’t know how many times I’ve had customers ask about using micro-nutrient applications, but pH, P, and K are low on the farm.  You don’t buy a 1000-bushel grain cart if the only tractor you have to pull it with is a 4020.

Crop Protection:  Is the cheapest input we buy each year ranging from 4-8% of our total cost of production.  However, the wrong crop protection program can cut into pockets by over 20%.  Make sure you are identifying the weeds in your field and finding multiple action sites to control these weeds.  We can’t afford to do everything right and have the wrong chemical program that cuts us to our knees.   We already know we have resistance issues so let’s tackle them.  I like to say, “use a pre-and the second pass is free”.

Technology:  Like I said above “Farming is made of probabilities and ROIs”.  An average grower is spending $650-$750 to grow an acre of corn.  It cost 1% of your total cost of production to get the data tools in place and understand the relationship to yield.  AYS is very powerful tool that has allowed us to dig deep into layers to find key correlations to answer How, What, Why, When, Where.  By January we will have all the data completed and have the insights to help us make decisions for 2018.