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Stay proactive to avoid spring curveballs

Finance First: These two tips can help farm leaders avoid costly surprises during the spring planting rush.

Darren Frye, CEO

April 22, 2024

3 Min Read
Farmer pouring seed into planter box
Getty Images/Bernardbodo

In farming, we know that it’s not really a matter of if farmers will be faced with a curveball during spring planting season – it’s when.

If you’ve farmed for more than one planting season, you’ve likely experienced some curveballs in the spring. Those most often result from weather, but they can also come from other areas of the farm.

Maybe it was an unexpected equipment breakdown when you needed to be in the field. Maybe there were some supplies you thought the farm had enough for what you needed, but that turned out to not be enough. Maybe an employee got the tractor stuck in some mud – and then quit their job.

Perhaps it was a business-related curveball. The markets threw your marketing strategy a big curveball and your plans needed some adjusting. Maybe you needed to restructure some loans or debt with your bank.

How to prepare

No matter where the curveball comes from this spring, there are a few things you can do to be ready. The first thing is to acknowledge that no one can predict exactly what the next curveball for the farm business will be. Farm leaders could waste a lot of valuable time and energy trying to predict and then plan for every possible curveball, but that’s just not advisable.

Being proactive about the top potential curveballs that are most likely to happen is probably a better way to prepare yourself as a leader and your business. Top farm leaders don’t have to obsess about every potential curveball because they know they and their business are flexible, prepared, and ready to respond with adaptability when the curveball comes.

  1. Think through the top curveballs. When you have some time – maybe even while you’re in the tractor – consider what the main curveballs are right now for your farm. Of course, there is always the weather – it is spring, after all. Then, go beyond planting-specific curveballs to think about your farm business as a whole. Think about your marketing plans and financial plans. Think about your employee strategy. Try to stick to the major, potentially most likely events.

  2. Adapt your mindset. Creating an agile, adaptive mindset now will go a long way when a curveball does arrive. Having alternative plans ready for some of the most likely situations can help you flip over quickly while still being productive and keeping things on track. You may want to have several alternative plans available for crucial areas.

Farmers have found that getting some third-party perspective from our market advisors has helped ease their minds. The advisors help farmer clients with planning and execution around marketing decisions and help keep them up to speed on the current rapidly-changing grain market situation – and how it impacts their operation.

Get a free two-week trial of our marketing information service (MarketView Basic). Your free trial includes regular audio and video updates, technical analysis, recommendations and more. Learn more about our market advisor programs and offerings at

About the Author(s)

Darren Frye

CEO, Water Street Solutions

Darren Frye grew up on an innovative, integrated Illinois farm. He began trading commodities in 1982 and started his first business in 1987, specializing in fertilizer distribution and crop consulting. In 1994 he started a consulting business, Water Street Solutions to help Midwest farmers become more successful through financial analysis, crop insurance, marketing consulting and legacy planning. The mission of Finance First is to get you to look at spreadsheets and see opportunity, to see your business for what it can be, and to help you build your agricultural legacy.

Visit Water Street Solutions

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